(Paris) “Parrot” of “Russian propaganda”: the controversial remarks of the Chinese ambassador to France who, questioned about the Ukrainian province of Crimea, annexed since 2014 by Moscow, denied the sovereignty of former Soviet republics, provoked an outcry among the States concerned.
“It is strange to hear an absurd version of the ‘Crimean history’ from a representative of a country scrupulous about its millennial history,” tweeted Mykhaïlo Podoliak, adviser to the presidency. Ukrainian.
“All countries of the former USSR have a clear sovereign status enshrined in international law,” he continued, before quipping, “If you want to be a major political player, don’t parrot Russian propaganda. »
Asked Friday evening on the French channel LCI, the Chinese ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, had indicated about Crimea, occupied by Moscow since 2014: “It depends on how we perceive this problem. There is history. Crimea was at the very beginning to Russia. It was Khrushchev who offered Crimea to Ukraine in the days of the Soviet Union. »
He continued his argument, saying that the countries of the former USSR “do not have effective status in international law because there is no international agreement to concretize their status as sovereign countries”.
Lu Shaye, who is part of the “wolves fighters”, this new clan of Chinese diplomats who do not mince words in the face of a West perceived as systematically hostile to Beijing, also called for an end to “bickering” over the question of post-war borders. Soviets.
“Now the most urgent thing is to stop, to achieve the ceasefire” between Russia and Ukraine, he said.
Comments that do not only concern these two countries, but all the republics born from the breakup of the USSR in 1991, i.e. 14 “United Nations member states, which this Chinese official literally wiped off the map in a single statement. mind-boggling,” comments Thomas Friang, founder of the Open Diplomacy Institute, a French think-tank, for the Sunday Journal.
The Baltic States, now members of the European Union and NATO, do not hide their anger. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics denounced the “completely unacceptable” remarks.
His Estonian counterpart Margus Tsahkna called them “false”, a matter of a “misinterpretation of history”. “According to international law, the Baltic States have been sovereign since 1918, but they were occupied for 50 years” by the USSR, he continued.
“The EU can only assume that these statements do not represent China’s official position,” said Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, also criticizing “unacceptable” remarks.
France said it had “learned with dismay”.
Ukraine has been internationally recognized “within borders including Crimea in 1991 by the entire international community, including China”, insisted Paris, recalling that the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 is “illegal in the light of of international law”.
Statements by “wolf” Shaye embarrass French diplomacy, just two weeks after Emmanuel Macron visited his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to urge him to “bring Russia to its senses” against Ukraine and urge it not to deliver arms to Moscow.
If Beijing says it is officially neutral, Xi Jinping has never condemned the Russian invasion or even spoken on the phone, so far, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Conversely, he recently went to Moscow to reaffirm his partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the guise of an anti-Western front.
MM. Macron and Xi then issued a joint statement in which they pledged to “support all efforts to restore peace in Ukraine”.
The French president had above all caused a wave of incomprehension by declaring that Europe should not automatically align itself with the United States or Beijing in the event of a conflict over Taiwan, when Washington is Kyiv’s main military support. , far ahead of the EU.
Among the then detractors of Emmanuel Macron, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis split a new perplexed tweet.
“If anyone is still wondering why the Baltic states don’t trust China to ‘broker peace in Ukraine,'” he observed, “here’s a Chinese ambassador who says Crimea is Russian and the borders of our countries have no legal basis. »