Western embassies in Beijing are urged by China to take down any political symbols.
According to local reports from Beijing on Wednesday, several foreign embassies in Beijing have received a notice from the Chinese government asking them to remove “politicised propaganda” from their structures. This notice appears to be in reference to the Ukrainian flags that many missions have flown on their exteriors since the Russian invasion.
According to the Japanese news agency Kyodo News, the Ukrainian flag and signs that read “Stand With Ukraine” in Chinese were prominently displayed at the embassies of Canada, Poland, and Germany, to show support for the nation’s struggle against Russia’s invasion.
According to the memo, which the agency was able to access, the Chinese government requested that foreign missions “not use the outer walls of their buildings for political propaganda. The decision, it continued, was made “in an effort to prevent causing conflicts between states. The Chinese Foreign Ministry sent the document on May 10 of last week. It claimed that “Chinese laws and regulations” must be followed by foreign embassies in China. However, there was no indication that China would take the diplomatic immunity mandated by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations into consideration.
While the notice made no mention of Ukrainian flags or other displays that might be considered “propaganda,” AFP, citing several European missions, confirmed that such a notice was sent to officials. It was unmistakably connected to the Ukraine solidarity exhibits, according to four Beijing-based diplomats who spoke to Reuters under the condition of anonymity.
In recognition of the campaign, which was observed on Wednesday in advance of Pride Month in June to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ rights violations around the world, it has also been reported that foreign embassies in Beijing have raised pride flags.
The Beijing government has maintained its stance and called for a peaceful resolution to the escalating hostilities since February 2022, despite pressure from the United States and its allies to side with the West in opposing Russia.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, responded to questions regarding the notice by saying that foreign embassies and offices of international organisations in China have “the obligation” to adhere to Beijing’s “laws and regulations” on Wednesday.
Notably, the convention makes no mention of any restrictions on the placement of political signs on the exterior walls of embassies.