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China says it respects sovereignty of ex-Soviet states after controversial comment from its ambassador to France

by Dinara Khalilova April 24, 2023 1:23 PM 2 min read
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning speaks at a press conference in Beijing on Feb. 8, 2023. (Kyodo News via Getty Images)
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Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Mao Ning said on April 24, as cited by Bloomberg, that Beijing "respects the status of the former Soviet republics as sovereign countries after the Soviet Union's dissolution," adding that the country's position remains "unchanged."

Mao's remarks, which she claims to represent China's official government stance, come days after the Chinese ambassador to France Lu Shaye's scandalous statement questioning the independence of post-Soviet countries.

Earlier on April 21, in an interview with the French television channel LCI, Shaye said that former Soviet countries "have no effective status in international law" as "there is no international agreement to materialize their status of a sovereign country."

According to Bloomberg, the Chinese Embassy in France has deleted the transcript of Lu Shaye's interview initially published on its official WeChat account.

Shaye's statement outraged Ukraine as well as Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which said they would summon Chinese diplomats to their capitals for explanations.

European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrell called the statement "unacceptable." Meanwhile, EU Council President Charles Michel said that the EU-China policy would be "on the agenda" of the next council's meeting in June.

China hasn't denounced Russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine since February 2022, claiming it has a neutral stance on the war.

However, in March, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin to open a "new era" of bilateral cooperation.

Explainer: China’s increasing role in Russia’s war against Ukraine
Just days before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February, China’s leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “friendship without limits,” agreeing there would be no “forbidden areas of cooperation.” Unsurprisingly then, Beijing did not condemn Russia’s all-out w…

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