June 17, 2024

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Chinese ambassador stirs up European reactions to post-Soviet countries comment

Chinese ambassador stirs up European reactions to post-Soviet countries comment

Hong Kong (CNN) European countries are demanding answers from Beijing after its top diplomat in Paris questioned the sovereignty of the former Soviet republics, in remarks that could undermine China’s efforts to be seen as a potential mediator between Russia and Ukraine.

remarks China The ambassador to France, Le Chay, who said during a television interview that the countries of the former Soviet Union had no “effective place in international law”, caused diplomatic panic, especially in the Baltic states.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis confirmed on Monday that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will summon Chinese representatives to seek clarification.

Officials including Ukraine, Moldova, France and the European Union responded to their criticism of Lu’s comments.

Lu said this in response to a question whether Crimeawhich was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, was once part of Ukraine.

“Even these former Soviet states do not have an effective status in international law because there has been no international agreement to materialize their status as sovereign states,” Lu said, then first. Noting that the issue of Crimea “depends on how you look at the problem,” as the region was “Russian at first” and then “was offered to Ukraine during the Soviet era.”

These statements seem to deny the sovereignty of countries that became independent states and members of the United Nations after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 – and come amid Brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine Under the leadership of the leader Vladimir Putin Vision The country must be part of Russia.

China has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or call for the withdrawal of its forces, instead urging restraint from “all sides” and accusing NATO of fueling the conflict. It also continued to deepen diplomatic and economic relations with Moscow.

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EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell responded on Sunday, calling the remarks “unacceptable”.

“The EU can only assume that these statements do not represent China’s official policy,” Borrell said. statement on Twitter.

France also responded Sunday, with its foreign ministry expressing “full solidarity” with all affected allies, and calling on China to clarify whether these comments reflect its position, according to Reuters.

Many leaders in former Soviet countries, including Ukraine, were quick to respond after the interview, which was broadcast Friday on French broadcaster LCI.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Renkivics called for “a clarification from the Chinese side and a complete retraction of this statement.” Posted on Twitter Saturday.

He vowed to raise the issue during a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, where relations with China are expected to be discussed.

Moldova, a small country on the southwestern border of Ukraine which used to be They are caught in the crossfire Of the Russian invasion, she said she was “surprised” by Lu’s remarks.

The ministry said on its official account on Twitter: “We were surprised by the Chinese (Ambassador’s) statements that question the sovereignty of the countries that declared independence in the year 91. Mutual respect and (territorial) unity were key to relations between Moldova and China.”

“We expect that these statements do not represent China’s official policy.”

“It is strange to hear an absurd version of the ‘History of Crimea’ from a representative of a country that has so much accuracy in its thousand-year history,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, books on Twitter.

“If you want to be a major political player, don’t respond with the propaganda parrots of Russian strangers…”

Asked about Lu’s remarks at a regular press conference on Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that China respects the “sovereign state status” of the former Soviet Union countries.

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“After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, China was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with relevant countries… China has always adhered to the principles of mutual demand and equality in its development of friendly and cooperative bilateral relations,” said the union’s spokesperson. Mao Ning said, without directly addressing questions about Lu’s views.

Sino-European relations

This is not the first time that Lu – a prominent voice among China’s so-called aggressive Diplomats “wolf warriors” He sparked controversy because of his views.

“He was a known agitator,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.

“But he’s a diplomat, and he represents his government, so that reflects some of the thinking inside China on this issue,” he said. adding, however, that “it is not the time for China to jeopardize its relations” with France.

The comments highlight Beijing at a particularly sensitive moment for its European diplomacy.

Relations have soured as Europe watches China warily Strengthening relations with Russia Its refusal to condemn Putin’s invasion.

Beijing has sought in recent months to repair its image, highlighting its declared neutrality in the conflict and Willingness to play a “constructive role” In dialogue and negotiations, which further inflames the debate in European capitals about how to calibrate its relationship with China, the main economic partner.

The controversy intensified this month after a visit from Beijing French President Emmanuel Macronwho signed a raft of cooperation agreements with China during a trip that he framed as an opportunity to start working with Beijing to push for peace in Ukraine.

Among the voices in Europe critical of such an approach were voices in countries of the former Soviet Union, where many remember they were under communist authoritarian rule.

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“If anyone still wonders why the Baltic states don’t trust China to ‘broker peace in Ukraine’, there is a Chinese ambassador who argues that Crimea is Russian and our countries’ borders have no legal basis,” said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis. wrote on Twitter The following Saturday if an interview.

Moritz Rudolph, a fellow and researcher at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School in the US, said that China has “been increasingly successful in being seen as a responsible power that might play a constructive role in the peace process in Ukraine.”

“It remains to be seen whether the leadership in Beijing realizes how damaging these words may do to its ambitions in Europe if the (People’s Republic of China) Foreign Ministry does not distance itself from Ambassador Lu’s words,” he said. .

He added that “China’s official position and practice” contradicted Lu’s statements, including that China has not recognized Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea or any territory it annexed since 2014.

Others pointed out that Lu’s remarks may also shed light on Beijing’s real diplomatic priorities.

For Russia, relinquishing control of Crimea is widely seen as a start in any possible peace settlement over Ukraine. This means that Beijing may have difficulty giving a straight answer to this question, according to Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Washington-based Stimson Research Center.

“It is impossible to answer the question for China. China’s relationship with Russia is the source of its influence,” she said, adding that this did not mean Lu could have provided a “better answer.”

“Between sabotaging China’s relationship with Russia and angering Europe, (Lu) chose the latter.”

CNN’s Radina Gigova, Xiaofei Xu, and Wayne Chang contributed reporting.