This week, authorities in Beijing requested that numerous Western embassies take down political posters from their outside walls, according to diplomatic sources in Beijing.
In support of the nation’s struggle against Russia’s invasion, a number of Western embassies across Beijing fly Ukrainian flags, some with words of encouragement in both English and Chinese.
Sources in a number of European embassies, however, told AFP that last week they got a notification from Chinese officials requesting that they remove such political posters.
All of them said that they would reject the request and would not alter their rules. A representative from a European embassy acknowledged the request and said that it was very definitely due to the conspicuous display of the Ukrainian flag at many embassies.
It was not apparent, according to a representative of another European embassy, if the request had anything to do with Ukraine or the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.
In commemoration of the campaign to raise awareness of LGBT rights abuses globally, which will be observed on Wednesday, several foreign embassies in Beijing have flown pride flags.
They “strictly adhere to the Vienna conventions,” the spokesman said. Thus, there is no justification for us to respond to this letter or alter our display policy.
Beijing reiterated that foreign embassies “have the obligation to respect Chinese laws and regulations” when questioned on Wednesday over stories that first surfaced in Japan’s Kyodo news agency.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said that China “calls on embassies of all countries in China… to perform their duties in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations or relevant international agreements.”
The treaty does not specifically forbid political signs from being posted on embassies’ exterior walls, but emphasizes that envoys have a responsibility “not to interfere in the internal affairs” of their host nations.
China has pushed for a “political settlement” to the situation in an effort to present itself as an impartial party to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
However, recent remarks by China’s ambassador to France casting doubt on the sovereignty of former Soviet republics raise further questions about its objectivity.
China’s position paper on resolving the crisis was likewise viewed with skepticism by NATO and the United States.