Freedom of speech in public debate should be guaranteed, says Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye
Published: Jun 03, 2023 10:52 PM
Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye. Photo:VCG

Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye. Photo:VCG

Freedom of speech should be guaranteed, Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye said in his first public response to his recent comments concerning the sovereign status of ex-Soviet states, according to a recent interview with French media outlet Vu du droit, the Chinese Embassy in France revealed on Saturday.

Addressing the recent public opinion storm, Lu said it was very unfair for the French television LCI news channel's reporters trigger this controversy.

"I should not be restricted from expressing my views on television, and my speech was not made-up. This is just my personal opinion, if someone disagrees, we can discuss, there is no need to attack me. The day after the interview [with LCI], they invited some so-called China experts on the same show to criticize and condemn me. It's unkind, isn't it? They have violated journalistic ethics," Lu told Vu du droit on May 31.

Following Lu's comments concerning the sovereign status of ex-Soviet states, Mao Ning, the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on April 24 that China respects the status of the member republics as sovereign states after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and China's position on the relevant issues has not changed.

"We can talk about history, about the collapse of the Soviet Union, about historical facts. There was a clause in the Soviet Constitution for the republics to leave the Soviet Union, but there were other provisions that gave priority to the sovereignty of the Soviet Union over that of the republics. Wouldn't it be great if my question aroused interest in the study of history?" Lu reflected.

"Moreover, my personal views do not prevent the Chinese government from maintaining official relations with these former Soviet republics. China was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with the former republics following the collapse of the Soviet Union. What I said does not contradict China's official foreign policy. Some people make a big deal out of it," Lu stated.

I think this debate is not about whether I was right or wrong, but whether there is freedom of speech in public debate on television, Lu noted, stressing that freedom of speech should be guaranteed.

Especially on international issues, a clash of views is not to be feared. Over the Ukraine crisis, for example, the West and Russia disagree, but there is no single judge to decide what is right and what is wrong. Western countries talk a lot about safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity. But they have done exactly the opposite before, and even today on Serbia and Kosovo, they hold opposite positions. How do they explain this? It's okay to discuss, but not to point fingers with groundless accusations, Lu was quoted as saying.

Mao Ning, the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry also said on April 24  also emphasized that China's position on the Ukraine issue is objective and fair, and that China's stance is very clear. China is willing to work with the international community to play a role in promoting a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis.

China has established and developed good bilateral relations with Ukraine based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence. Any attempt to sow discord or disrupt China's relations with relevant countries will be futile and have ulterior motives, the spokesperson noted.

Global Times