European governments have reacted with anger and consternation to comments by a Chinese diplomat questioning the former Soviet states’ legal status and Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which regained independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, said they would summon Chinese diplomats on Monday to complain about comments by Lu Xie, Beijing’s ambassador to Paris.
“These former Soviet Union countries do not have effective status under international law because there is no international agreement to confirm their status as a sovereign state.” Lu She said during an interview with French news channel LCI.
Asked whether Crimea is part of Ukraine, Lu said the question was “not easy to answer in a few words” and pointed out that Crimea belongs to Russia, while neglecting to mention Russia’s illegal annexation of the peninsula in 2014.
Ukrainian officials dismissed the Chinese comments. “All post-Soviet states have clear sovereign status in international law,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak tweeted. “It is strange to hear such a ridiculous version of the “history of Crimea” from a representative of a country that is careful about its thousand-year history.”
The French Foreign Ministry also expressed “dismay” at Lou’s comments.
“It is up to China to say whether these comments reflect its position, and we believe they do not,” the French foreign ministry said. “We stand in solidarity with our allies and partners who have won long-awaited freedom after decades of oppression.” Also, “the annexation of Crimea . . . is illegal under international law.”
After Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to Beijing, he said China’s plan for Ukraine showed a “willingness to play a responsible role” in the conflict. The French president later faced criticism for suggesting the EU should avoid being drawn into tensions between the US and China over Taiwan.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said: “If anyone is still wondering why the Baltic countries do not trust China to bring peace to Ukraine, here is a Chinese ambassador arguing that Crimea is a Russian state, our countries’ borders have no legal basis. .”
Lu’s comments contradicted China’s policy toward the former Soviet Union. China entered Diplomatic relations In September 1991 with these independent republics.
“Lu Xie has a radical, non-mainstream opinion that deviates from Beijing’s official position and practice,” said Moritz Rudolph, a fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said the comments were “completely unacceptable”, adding: “We expect an explanation from the Chinese side and a full withdrawal of this statement.”
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry has yet to comment on Lu’s comments. Lu, who is in his fourth year in Paris, has criticized Beijing’s latest style of “wolf warrior” diplomacy — named after a series of movies in which Chinese special operations forces defeat Western-led mercenaries — for his earlier outspoken comments. .
Vadim Omelchenko, Ambassador of Ukraine to France, teased “Who Owns Vladivostok?” Lu asked about the port city annexed by Russia from China in the mid-19th century. should be asked.
Estonia’s Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said the ambassador’s comments were a “false and misinterpretation of history”. He added: “The Baltic states have been sovereign under international law since 1918, but were occupied for 50 years.”
The three Baltic states first declared independence in 1918 after the Russian Revolution. The Soviet Union occupied them in 1940 during World War II and annexed them in 1944. Most Western countries refused to recognize the annexation. After independence in 1990-91, all three joined the European Union and NATO and were strong supporters of Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.
Lithuania is in China’s crosshairs after deepening ties with Taiwan in 2021, to which Beijing responded with retaliatory sanctions. All three Baltic countries have withdrawn from China’s former “17+1” dialogue for Central and Eastern European countries.
Joseph Wu, Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tweeted He backed Landsbergis’ comments, adding: “Believe me, it takes #Taiwan to know and feel how far and how bad it will go”.
Additional report of Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv