France summons Chinese ambassador over 'unacceptable' tweets
France on Tuesday summoned the Chinese ambassador for the second time in two days over "unacceptable" behaviour after he posted a series of tweets targeting French lawmakers and a researcher. Ambassador Lu Shaye was summoned to the foreign ministry "to inform him of all the grievances we have", said a ministry official, who asked not to be identified by name.
The ministry's Asia director, Bertrand Lortholary, informed Ambassador Lu that "the embassy's methods, and the tone of its public comments, were completely unacceptable and exceeded all the limits commonly accepted by any embassy in the world," the official said.
The summons was issued Monday over "insults and threats" made by Lu as China reacted furiously to new Western sanctions over rights violations and a crackdown against a Muslim Uighur minority that it accuses of religious extremism.
But in a breach of the usual diplomatic protocol, it took some time for Lu to comply with the demand to appear at the ministry.
Europe Minister Clément Beaune said earlier Tuesday that Lu had snubbed the initial request for talks, with the Chinese embassy in Paris citing "scheduling issues" in a Twitter post.
L’Ambassadeur LU Shaye ne s’est pas rendu aujourd’hui au MAE français en raison d’agenda. Demain, il s’y rendra pour entreprendre des démarches auprès de la partie française sur les sanctions imposées par l’UE aux individus et aux entités chinois et les questions liées à Taiwan.— Ambassade de Chine en France (@AmbassadeChine) March 22, 2021
"Neither France nor Europe is a doormat," Beaune warned on France Info radio. "When you are summoned as an ambassador, you pay a visit to the foreign ministry."
Lu had already been summoned by the foreign ministry last April over posts and tweets by the embassy defending Beijing’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and criticising the West’s handling of it.
Known for his aggressive and outspoken comments on the embassy's Twitter account, Lu took aim at several people recently including Antoine Bondaz, a China specialist at the Foundation for Strategic Research think tank.
Starting on Friday, he derided Bondaz as a "small-time hoodlum", a "crazed hyena" and an "ideological troll" with an "anti-Chinese" stance after Bondaz complained about Chinese pressure on French lawmakers hoping to visit Taiwan.
Lu also took aim at the French lawmakers considering the Taiwan trip.
"By targeting lawmakers, the ambassador himself has disregarded the fundamental principle of separation of powers, and he was invited to observe this more strictly going forward," the ministry official said.
Rights groups believe at least one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in the northwestern region, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.
Beijing responded with entry bans on 10 Europeans – including five members of the European Parliament – as well as two EU bodies and two think-tanks.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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