Russia should also be alarmed by Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye’s statement that the states that were part of the USSR do not have an “effective legal status in international law”, believes former Minister of National Defence and Ambassador for Special Duties Linas Linkevičius, Ignas Grinevičius is writing at the lrytas.lt news portal, lrytas.lt reported.
“The Russians have been worried for a long time”
The long-time diplomat told, “Lietuvos rytas” TV programme “Nauja diena” (New Day) that the Chinese ambassador’s statement should be taken seriously.
On Monday, China finally reacted to the Ambassador’s words and assured that it respects the “sovereign state status” of all former Soviet republics, but, according to Linkevičius, the damage is already done.
“This still does not repair the country’s image and credibility, not only in terms of international relations, but also in terms of its ability to moderate conflicts, to mediate, which is what China has sometimes claimed to be doing, and it undermines all those efforts,” he said.
The Ambassador noted that such statements are not commonplace and may indicate Beijing’s thinking.
“The Chinese think in terms of epochs, centuries, and this kind of look at history… We have now been sort of reassured that they are not questioning our status, but I think Russia should be worried as well because if you look at old maps, back in the mid-nineteenth century or even earlier, two-thirds of Siberia belonged to China. So, historically speaking, one can see this too”, Linkevičius said.
The diplomat is convinced that China‘s ambitions in all cases require more attention and that the whole world should be alarmed and react seriously to such statements.
Linkevičius said that he has noticed several cases where China spits in Russia’s face, and Russia just has to wipe its nose and pretend that nothing has happened.
“Before Xi Jinping’s visit, there were also some reports on state television with some historical parallels, with the names of Russian cities translated into Chinese. So you see these strange parallels and strange associations.
Apparently, these things do not happen by accident, and I have known for a long time that the Russians have been worried, certainly from my more active days. They may not declare everything publicly, but it is a fact,” Linkevičius said.
“So, from the point of view of credibility, it is a kind of illusion to expect that some links will help Russia to get out of a crisis of its own making,” he added.
A line has been crossed
Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Monday that European Union countries must react to the Chinese Ambassador’s statements and condemn such rhetoric from Beijing.
“We have asked our partners to support us as much as they can. This means that there may be summons of ambassadors in other capitals, public statements that they do not agree with these statements, demanding explanations”, Landsbergis said.
For his part, Linkevičius noted that not all EU countries have responded or will respond in the future to Lithuania’s request, as a number of Western leaders have close economic ties with China.
“We can see that those countries that are more active have one position towards China, but there are also countries in the EU whose economies are quite strongly integrated with China; they have reciprocal ties, which hinders the formation of a more principled position of the EU in relation to China because consensus is needed.
It is not so much about politics or conflicts, but simply about economics, about Chinese interests in ports. If I mentioned Hungary and Greece specifically, I would have to talk about Hungary and Greece. There are very specific arguments for which countries are avoiding or refraining from harsher words or reproaches.
But in this respect, I would not doubt that all countries should show solidarity because a line has been crossed”, the diplomat believes.
Linkevičius suggested that China’s shock statement could have been a test to see how countries would react.
“That denial explains some things, but for the future, it calls on us to be more vigilant”, he said.
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