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China clarifies position amid ambassador spat

Beijing’s ambassador in Paris drew flak last weekend after he questioned the status of ex-Soviet states

Beijing has attempted to extinguish a diplomatic firestorm after its ambassador in France, Lu Shaye, said on Saturday that ex-Soviet states did not have “concrete” sovereign status.

“The Chinese side respects the status of the member states as sovereign states after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, declared during a Monday news conference when asked if China was standing by its envoy’s remarks.

Mao also noted that China had been among the first nations to establish diplomatic ties with various former Soviet states and added that Beijing’s stance on respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity remained unchanged.


The office of Beijing’s ambassador in Paris also moved to quell the controversy with its own statement on Monday, clarifying that Lu’s comments were “not a policy declaration” but rather the “expression of personal viewpoints during a television interview.”

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Following Lu’s comments, which were delivered by the diplomat to French broadcaster LCI, France as well as three Baltic states – Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia – summoned Chinese envoys to explain the remarks.

Lithuania, in particular, has had a fractious relationship with China. Beijing downgraded its diplomatic relations with Vilnius in 2021 after the Baltic nation permitted Taiwan to establish an embassy in the country. In a tweet on Saturday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis pointed to Lu’s comments as proof that China could not be trusted as a peace broker in Ukraine.


The foreign ministries of a host of other European Union countries also issued rebukes of Lu’s comments. The row comes amid resolve in Beijing to fortify relations with European nations – many of whom are key trading partners, as China seeks to kickstart an economy emerging from three years of strict ‘Zero-Covid’ lockdown strategies.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said that the bloc would “reassess and recalibrate our strategy towards China” ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday. The subject is also set to be debated by the 27 EU heads of state at a meeting in June.

April 25, 2023 at 01:13AM


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