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JM | Oct 29, 2020

Tapia backtracks from Twitter firestorm; rants about China, 5G

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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Donald Tapia, US Ambassador to Jamaica (Photo contributed, Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, Illinois)

Just days after a sparring match with Jamaican Twitter users, US Ambassador Donald Tapia claims the inflammatory tweets were not his but rather the work of a social media manager on his verified Twitter account.

Tapia, speaking on Nationwide Radio on Thursday (October 29), however offered an apology while he ranted about fifth-generation (5G) technology by China, led by smartphone giants Huawei.

“To the people that [were] involved in the Twitter [controversy] I have to apologise to them very deeply. It should not have been the way that I react,” he began.

“I’ve always said that I am here as your guest and guests should not act in that manner. I stand by that today as I did the day I arrived here,” Ambassador Tapia added.

In his interview with Cliff Hughes, Tapia outright denied allegations his official Twitter account was hacked, adding that the social media manager, purportedly a US national, will be “rotated out”. There was no immediate timeline given by the ambassador for the alleged manager’s repatriation.

“He just got here, three or four weeks ago, but what we will say is he will be leaving sooner than the [two-month] rotation,” he explained.

Tapia’s unsubstantiated claims continued as he slammed Chinese advancements in 5G technology. According to him, the Chinese and their “communist, totalitarian” style of government are untrustworthy.

While admitting there are no US companies currently capable of building an end-to-end 5G system, Tapia argued America is more than willing to build Jamaica it’s very own ‘for free’.

Donald Tapia, who has been US Ambassador to Jamaica for nearly two years, is a vocal supporter of President Trump’s Republican Party and had no previous diplomatic experience. He is a wealthy Arizona businessman, philanthropist, Republican donor.

When asked to elaborate, Tapia said that the US already supplies China with the chipset technology that enables 5G, therefore, assertions that Washington is trailing Beijing’s rollout are ludicruous.

“We’re supplying the chips that the communist Chinese use in their 5G infrastructure, so how can we be lagging behind with 5G deployment?” he retorted.

One thing that didn’t escape many listeners’ attention was Tapia’s tonality, which, ironically seemed to mirror the persona of his non-aligned Twitter account.

The tirade more or less broke at the cracks, when Hughes called on Tapia to act more in keeping with his role as an ambassador.

“You’re a diplomat. Behave like one, Ambassador. I must put in the mix that you’re not a diplomat, you’re a businessman,” the veteran journalist quipped.

The embattled US Ambassador’s Twitter account traded insults with Jamaican users on Tuesday after conversation swirled around possible sanctions if the island continued to push its 5G endeavours through a Chinese source.

In a Sunday newspaper article, Tapia said that Washington held many national security concerns with China’s 5G deployment and warned that Jamaica’s financial sector could be the first of many casualties in a thinly veiled threat.

The controversial Twitter of account of Donald Tapia triggered international media attention after duking it out with Jamaican Twitter users earlier this week.

“As for consequences, it’s gonna affect banking, any financial transaction from this island. That’s the biggest consequence you have, that your financial institutions and the finance of Jamaica stops,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“If you were to have a hurricane, earthquake or any type of natural disaster, we cannot and will not move into a communist Chinese network because it gives them the opportunity to download all the data that we have,” Tapia added.

It’s not the first time Tapia’s verified account has been ensnared in controversy, as the Twitter page was previously on the receiving end of backlash earlier in June.

At that time, Tapia’s account drew the ire of Twitter users after claiming that the South Korean embassy showing solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement was going “too far”.

The official Twitter account expressed its displeasure on Saturday, June 13 at the US Embassy in Seoul erecting a banner—responding with the argumentative and racist ‘All Lives Matter’ counter.

“That’s taking it [too] far. All [lives matter],” the account tweeted in reply.

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