Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye speaks during an interview on France’s BFM TV on Wednesday. Photo: Screengrab from the BFM TV Web site
ANNEXATION PLANS: Remarks by the Chinese ambassador to France showed that Beijing seeks to normalize genocide, re-education and gulags, a US official said
/ Staff writer, with the Guardian and CNA
European and US officials condemned comments from Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye （盧沙野）, after he on Wednesday said that Taiwanese would be “re-educated” after any annexation by China.
In an interview on French television, Lu accused the Democratic Progressive Party of “extremist” propaganda and turning Taiwanese against “reunification” with China.
“We will re-educate. I’m sure that the Taiwanese population will again become favorable of the reunification and will become patriots again,” Lu told BFM TV.
The term “re-education” has been used to describe Chinese authorities’ treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.
European Parliament Subcommittee on Security and Defense Chairwoman Nathalie Loiseau was among the Western officials who on Thursday criticized Lu’s remarks on Twitter.
“To those who are indignant at [US House of Representatives Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, I advise to reserve their indignation for the scandalous remarks of the Chinese ambassador, who promises the reunification of Taiwan against the will of its inhabitants and then their ‘re-education,’” she wrote. “This is where the scandal lies.”
Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this week, with China launching live-fire drills in retaliation.
“Chinese threats to Taiwan, their destruction of democracy in Hong Kong & genocide of the Uyghurs show the need for a united & strong EU and alliance with US,” European lawmaker Guy Verhofstadt wrote.
“Genocide, reeducation, gulags, all being normalized for a new age of totalitarian evil,” wrote Paul Massaro, a Helsinki-based senior policy adviser to the US government.
In Washington, Center for Uyghur Studies director Abdul Hakim wrote that Lu’s remarks were reminiscent of Xinjiang concentration camps.
“Don’t believe us, now China is saying it will set up a concentration camp in Taiwan,” he wrote.
Reporters Without Borders president Pierre Haski said in an interview with the Central News Agency （CNA） that Lu’s statement was rooted in “the ideological differences between China and democracies.”
“I don’t think he [Lu] has a good grasp on the word ‘re-education.’ The impact of this word on Western audiences, it’s a very vicious, devastating statement,” he said.
Marc Julienne, director of the Centre for Asian Studies at the French Institute of International Relations, told CNA he felt that “re-education” was the worst word Lu could have used in front of a European audience, given Europe’s experiences during World War II.
“This remark not only showed the French what China’s intentions toward Taiwan are, but it also may further damage Lu’s image and that of China,” he said.