Several Western embassies in Beijing have received special orders to remove political symbols. The AFP news agency says embassies have informed authorities that they do not intend to comply with the order.
In the Chinese capital Beijing, several Western embassies have been ordered to remove “political symbols” from their exterior walls. Embassy sources told the news agency AFP about it and it was first reported by the Japanese news agency Kyodo.
Embassies of many Western countries display the Ukrainian flag to show support for Ukraine against Russian aggression. Some even display messages of support in English and Chinese.
An employee of the embassy of a European country says he is almost certain the message from officials is about the Ukrainian flag. However, an employee of the embassy of another European country says it is unclear whether the order pertains to Ukraine or to Wednesday’s International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Some embassies in Beijing display pride flags to mark the day.
China considers the demand justified
According to sources, the transfer request came from the Chinese authorities this week. AFP says embassies have informed authorities that they do not intend to comply with the order and change their practices.
The embassy believes that they have every right not to act on China’s claim. On the other hand, the Chinese administration believes that foreign embassies have an obligation to respect Chinese law.
A representative of China’s foreign ministry justified the demand by citing the Vienna Convention and other international agreements. The Convention specifies that ambassadors do not have the right to interfere in the internal affairs of their host countries, but it does not specifically prohibit political messages on the exterior walls of embassies.
China has tried to portray itself as neutral in Russia’s war of aggression and has called for a political solution to the crisis. However, China’s views on resolving the conflict have raised suspicions, for example, in the United States and the military alliance NATO.