Beijing backtracks on ambassador’s remarks on former Soviet republics

BEIJING: China on Monday stressed its commitment to the sovereignty of all countries, including former Soviet republics, following an uproar over comments by its ambassador to France over the weekend, reported German news agency dpa.

“China respects the status of the former Soviet republics and sovereign countries after the Soviet Union’s dissolution,“ Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a Beijing press conference.

Distancing the government from comments made by Lu Shaye, the ambassador to France, during an interview on French television, Mao said China had been among the first to establish diplomatic ties with the countries concerned.

“Since the establishment of diplomatic ties with these countries, China has followed the principles of mutual respect and equality in developing friendly and cooperative bilateral relations with them,“ she said.

In his interview, Lu said: “In international law, even these countries of the former Soviet Union have no effective status because there is no international agreement to concretise their status as a sovereign country.” His remarks sparked outrage from the Baltic republics in particular.

His comments on Ukraine were similarly controversial. Asked whether Crimea belonged to Ukraine, the diplomat said it all depended on how one looked at the issue.

Speaking on the issue of Ukraine on Monday, Mao said: “China’s position is clear and consistent. We will continue to work with the international community to make our own contribution to facilitating a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”

On Saturday, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs tweeted that he had summoned the chargé d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in Riga because of the “completely unacceptable” remarks. The move had been coordinated with Lithuania and Estonia, he said. – Bernama