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Top Chinese Diplomat Denies Ex-Soviet Republics Sovereignty


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All hopes that China could have a moderating and mediating effect on Russia in the Ukraine war have turned out to be illusions. What’s more, Beijing is increasingly adopting Moscow’s interpretations of the conflict.

Now China’s ambassador in Paris has caused outrage: As the Bloomberg   news agency reports, Lu Shaye said in a conversation broadcast by the French broadcaster LCI that some countries of the former Soviet Union have no effective status under international law. There is “no international agreement that establishes its status as a sovereign nation,” the diplomat replied when asked if he considered the Crimean Peninsula part of Ukraine .

Crimea was seized by Russian troops in 2014, after which Moscow held a pseudo-referendum to give the occupation some semblance of legitimacy. In previous years, Russia had always officially emphasized the inviolability of Ukraine’s borders. In 2008, Vladimir Putin told ARD that Crimea was not a disputed territory and that Russia had recognized the borders. 

Not the first scandal

Lu Shaye’s comments unleashed a storm of indignation in Eastern Europe. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, numerous states there held the status of Soviet constituent republics, including Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova , Georgia , Armenia , Azerbaijan and the three Baltic states of Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania . Some of these countries had been conquered and occupied by Soviet troops.

The statements by the top Chinese diplomat caused anger, especially in the Baltic States. According to the Bloomberg report, the governments of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia announced that they would summon Chinese diplomats to explain the statements. Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said on Twitter that Shaye’s statements were “unacceptable”. His Estonian counterpart Margus Tsahkna criticized it as “a misinterpretation of history”.

China’s largely unconditional policy of support for Russia has coincided with growing tensions in the South China Sea. There are fears in the West that Beijing could see Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a kind of blueprint for its own attack on the island nation of Taiwan.

It’s not the first scandal instigated by Lu Shaye. At the end of March, the government in Paris summoned him. The French Foreign Ministry accused him of “unacceptable” statements. The trigger at the time: the Chinese embassy in Paris had accused a French researcher of an “anti-Chinese” attitude on Twitter and described him, among other things, as a “petty crook”. The ambassador was also said to have sharply criticized French parliamentarians who wanted to travel to Taiwan . 



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