Friday, December 8, 2023

Finnish Embassy in Beijing: China did not order the removal of “political signs”


Several Western embassies in Beijing have been ordered to remove the signs, the AFP news agency reported on Wednesday.

The Finnish embassy in Beijing has not received any orders from China to remove “political signs” from its outer walls, Timo Sisio, press officer for the embassy in Beijing, told STT.

– In general, I can say that, of course, a number of issues are constantly being discussed with the Chinese authorities. We don’t comment on those in great detail, says Sysiö.

Several Western embassies in the Chinese capital Beijing have been ordered to remove signs from their exterior walls, the AFP news agency reported on Wednesday. Embassies of many Western countries display the Ukrainian flag to show support for Ukraine against Russian aggression.

An employee of a European country’s embassy told AFP news he was almost certain the message from officials was about the Ukrainian flag. However, an employee at the embassy of another European country said it was unclear whether the order was related to Ukraine or to Wednesday’s International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Read more: China orders Western embassies to remove “political symbols” from its walls – Ukrainian flags and rainbows have been enough

Sysiö could not say in the STT interview why China might have ordered embassies to remove the signs from the exterior walls of buildings.

Embassy premises enjoy inviolability

According to Sysio, there is currently a sign with the flags of both Finland and Ukraine at the entrance to the Finnish ambassador’s residence. This is a show of support for Ukraine.

– There has not been a request to remove this icon. Sysiö says the sign was ordered at the start of the war of aggression and put up on the gate around February-March last year.

According to Sysio, it is a matter of interpretation which things count as political signs. Ultimately, the embassies themselves decide what kind of flags and symbols are to be displayed on their premises.

Embassy premises, including the gate of the ambassador’s residence, enjoy immunity in accordance with the Vienna Convention.

According to AFP, the embassies have informed the Chinese authorities that they will not comply with the order to remove the signs. The embassy believes that they have every right not to act on China’s claim.

Must respect Chinese laws and regulations.

Sysiö has not discussed with other embassies about possible orders to remove political signs.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to a question asked by Reuters news agency on the matter at a foreign ministry press conference held on Wednesday. The response did not directly state whether China had actually issued such an order to the embassies.

Spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news conference that embassies and international organizations should respect China’s laws and regulations under the Vienna Convention and international agreements.

The question Wenbin responded to referred to the embassies’ signs as “political propaganda”.

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