Chinese diplomat Lu Shaye's comments challenging former Soviet states' legal status and Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea were met with anger from European governments, as reported by the Financial Times.
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania plan to summon Chinese diplomats on Monday (24 April) after the ambassador, Lu Shaye, made remarks in Paris about the sovereign status of these states.
Lu Shaye stated in an interview with French news channel LCI that the ex-Soviet countries lack effective status under international law since there is no concrete international agreement establishing them as a sovereign nation.
Lu responded ambiguously to whether Crimea was part of Ukraine, noting that it used to belong to Russia without mentioning its illegal annexation in 2014.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, rejected Chinese remarks and emphasised that all post-Soviet Union nations have a distinct sovereign status established in international law.
He found it odd that a nation with a millennium-long history would offer an illogical rendition of the 'history of Crimea'.
The French foreign ministry expressed concern over Chinese diplomat's remarks. Already, Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism for suggesting that the EU should stay clear of tensions between the US and China over Taiwan, after his recent visit to Beijing.
Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, highlighted the reason behind the Baltic states' lack of faith in China's peace-brokering ability, referring to the Chinese ambassador's support for Crimea being a part of Russia and dismissing the legal basis of Baltic countries' borders.
Lu's statements conflict with China's official stance on ex-Soviet countries, despite establishing diplomatic relations with them in 1991.
It remains unclear whether Beijing’s foreign ministry will address Lu's comments. Lu, who has served as Beijing's representative in Paris for four years, is known for his blunt and aggressive diplomatic approach, similar to the "wolf warrior" diplomacy portrayed in Chinese action movies.
Estonia's foreign minister, Margus Tsahkna, denounced the ambassador's remarks as "false and a misinterpretation of history," asserting that the Baltic states have been sovereign since 1918 but were occupied for 50 years.
In 1918, following the Russian Revolution, the three Baltic states declared independence, only to be occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union during WWII in 1940 and 1944.
Despite this annexation, most western nations did not acknowledge it. Post-independence in 1990-91, the Baltic states joined the EU and NATO and have remained firm allies of Ukraine amidst ongoing Russian aggression.
China imposed sanctions on Lithuania for its close relationship with Taiwan, causing all three Baltic states to withdraw from the former "17+1" dialogue for central and eastern European countries.
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