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Chinese ambassador under fire in Europe after Taiwan, post-Soviet sovereignty remarks

Lu Shaye claims former Soviet states ‘don’t have effective status’ according to international law

China's ambassador to France Lu Shaye (Chinese Embassy to France photo)

China's ambassador to France Lu Shaye (Chinese Embassy to France photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China’s Ambassador to France, Lu Shaye (盧沙野), has received backlash from European countries after claiming in an interview that former Soviet nations are not sovereign.

Lu said that Chinese, rather than Taiwanese, decide Taiwan’s fate. He also accused the interviewer of not being honest and not studying when confronted with China’s history under Mao Zedong (毛澤東).

Lu was interviewed by Swiss journalist Darius Rochebin on Friday (April 21) during a televised program on La Chaine Info (LCI). They discussed issues including French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China, Taiwan, U.S.-China relations, Ukraine, Russia, and a new “multipolar” world order.

In a discussion about Taiwan, Rochebin showed an animated video that he said was created by China, in which Taiwan can be seen being bombarded by China in all directions. He called the video “menacing” and “a form of extremely shocking aggression.”

Lu, watching the video, said, “It is not us who menace. It is us who are menaced.”

“However, ultimately, isn’t it the Taiwanese who decide their fate?” Rochebin asked.

“It’s the Chinese people who decide Taiwan’s fate … by all means,” Lu replied. “If we cannot achieve the goal of reunifying the homeland by peaceful means, we can resort to other means," Lu added.

Lu claimed that Taiwan has been a part of China’s territory since ancient times. “Taiwan’s return to China is a component of post-war international order,” he said, and therefore support for Taiwan’s independence is “sabotaging post-war order."

When asked about a survey that showed 64% of Taiwan's people identify as Taiwanese, 30% as both Taiwanese and Chinese, and only 2.4% as Chinese, Lu said that public opinion can be easily manipulated. He accused the Democratic Progressive Party of instilling “successionist” ideas in Taiwan’s education system.

In another segment of the interview, Rochebin asked if Lu believed Crimea was a part of Ukraine. Lu chuckled, then said, “That depends. How do you see the problem?”

Rochebin told him that according to international law, Crimea belongs to Ukraine. However, Lu replied, “Under international law, even the post-Soviet states don’t have effective status … there isn’t an international consensus that solidifies their status as sovereign states.”

The statement immediately faced backlash in Europe. Ukrainian Ambassador to France Vadym Omelchenko wrote, “Either there are obvious problems with geography, or such statements are not in accordance with the capital (of China).”

Latvia Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted, “Remarks by the Chinese Ambassador in France concerning international law and sovereignty of nations are completely unacceptable. We expect explanation from the Chinese side and complete retraction of this statement.” Foreign Minister of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis wrote, “If anyone is still wondering why the Baltic States don't trust China to ‘broker peace in Ukraine,’ here's a Chinese ambassador arguing that Crimea is Russian and our countries' borders have no legal basis.”

Meanwhile, according to Baltic news agency Delfi, Estonia's foreign ministry has summoned China’s ambassador for “a short lesson in history.” Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna called Lu’s position “incomprehensible.”

Lu also came under fire in France for losing his temper when Rochebin called Mao Zedong “one of the biggest criminals in history.” After Rochebin listed Mao’s offenses including deporting, torturing, and assassinating millions of people, Lu told him, “Every time you interview me, you quibble with these past slanders. You are not honest by posing these questions.”

Rochebin asked if the death of millions under Mao’s rule was “slander.”

“It’s not fair, it’s not precise. Did you study?” Lu replied. When Rochebin attempted to continue questioning him, Lu said repeatedly, “Stop. I did not come here to discuss with you these slanders.”

Lu added, “Don’t talk to me about human rights either. In your country and other Western countries as well, there are more human rights problems.” He told Rochebin to read the eight reports published by China to find out what those problems were.