TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The French foreign ministry has summoned Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye (盧沙野) for repeatedly insulting a researcher in a war of words over Beijing's pressure on French lawmakers.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Lu had written French Senator Alain Richard to dissuade him and other members of the Senate's France-Taiwan Friendship Group from visiting Taiwan. The letter asked Richard to avoid any form of official contact with the Taiwanese authorities, as this could send the wrong message to pro-independence forces in Taiwan.
While Richard was reportedly upset by the tone of the letter, Antoine Bondaz, a fellow at Paris-based think tank the Foundation for Strategic Research, criticized Lu in a tweet for intervening in France's democratic system. Bondaz emphasized that the legislators have the freedom to meet with anyone they see fit.
In response, the Chinese embassy argued that Lu was actually preventing other countries from intervening in China's internal affairs. In a series of tweets starting Friday (March 19), it also began referring to Bondaz as a "little thug," a "crazed hyena," and an "ideological troll" with an "anti-Chinese" stance.
The embassy also stated that the time for "lamb-like" Chinese diplomats is over. It claimed that Beijing's "wolf warrior" approach is necessary to defend its international image against "mad dogs" from other countries.
In a tweet on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the Chinese embassy's comments as "unacceptable." He said the foreign ministry has summoned the Chinese ambassador and will "firmly reiterate the message" to him.
Meanwhile, the French foreign ministry's spokeswoman, Agnes von der Muhl, said in a statement that the Chinese embassy must "strictly respect" the rules for diplomatic relations. On behalf of the ministry, she also protested Beijing's decision to sanction several European officials, including French member of European Parliament Raphael Glucksmann.
Antoine Bondaz, fellow at Foundation for Strategic Research. (Twitter, Antoine Bondaz photo)