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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France rebukes China envoy over 'unacceptable' tweets

Ambassador Lu called a French researcher a 'crazed hyena' [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 March, 2021

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Ambassador Lu issued 'insults and threats' against French lawmakers as the EU imposed sanctions on Xinjiang officials.
France on Tuesday summoned the Chinese ambassador to complain of "unacceptable" behaviour after he posted a series of tweets targeting French lawmakers and a researcher.

Ambassador Lu Shaye was summoned to the foreign ministry "this morning to inform him of all the grievances we have concerning him", said a ministry official, who asked not to be identified by name.

The ministry's Asia director Bertrand Lortholary informed 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 had been issued Monday over "insults and threats" made by Lu as China and western nations face off over allegations of rights abuses by Beijing against the Muslim Uighur minority.

But unusually in such a situation according to standard diplomatic protocol, it took some time for Lu to comply with the demand to appear at the ministry.

Europe Minister Clement 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.

"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, an envoy known for his aggressive and outspoken comments on the embassy's Twitter account, has taken aim at several people recently including Antoine Bondaz, a China specialist at the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS) think-tank.

Starting on Friday, he derided Bondaz as a "small-time hoodlum", a "crazed hyena" and "ideological troll" with "anti-Chinese" stances after Bondaz complained about Chinese pressure on French lawmakers hoping to visit Taiwan.

Lu also took aim at the French lawmakers weighing 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.

The diplomatic spat comes as China reacted furiously to new Western sanctions over rights violations and a crackdown against a Muslim Uighur minority it accuses of religious extremism.

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.

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