Lazy eyes listen
Dozens of MPs representing a number of European countries have called on France to boot out China’s ambassador to the country, Lu Shaye. Last week, the senior diplomat questioned whether former Soviet republics can today be regarded as sovereign within the current framework of international law – a comment that landed him in hot water with several EU member states.
An open letter to French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and published by newspaper Le Monde on Sunday listed 80 lawmakers as signatories.
In it, they urged Paris to “declare Ambassador Lu Shaye persona non grata immediately as a response to his completely unacceptable behavior.”
Lu is no stranger to controversy, having made a reputation for himself during his four years in office as an embodiment of China’s assertive foreign policy, commonly known as wolf-warrior diplomacy.
Lu’s comment “violate[s] international law” and constitutes a “threat against the security of European partner countries of France,” the authors insist. The MPs also accused the outspoken Chinese diplomat of having made inflammatory remarks in the past. They cited the comments he made last August about the Taiwanese people needing to be “re-educated” after China regains control over the self-governing island.
On Saturday, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania lodged a joint protest over Lu’s latest comment, made to a French TV channel. The three Baltic nations summoned their Chinese chargés d’affaires to “provide explanations.”
In a statement on Sunday, the French Foreign Ministry emphasized its solidarity with NATO’s Eastern European allies and called on China to clarify its position on the issue.
Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell, in turn, described the remarks made by Beijing’s envoy in Paris as “unacceptable.”
The controversial interview featured Ambassador Lu claiming that “countries of the former Soviet Union don’t have effective status in international law because there is no international agreement to make their status as a sovereign country concrete.”
He also offered the opinion that Crimea had originally been Russian and had been gifted to Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in the mid 1950s.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in France deleted a transcript of Lu’s interview from its official account on the WeChat social media platform, just hours after having posted it early on Monday.
Speaking to the press on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning reiterated that Beijing “respects the sovereign-state status of the participating republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.” She also stressed that China was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the new states.