China has told foreign embassies and international organizations not to display “politicized propaganda” on their buildings, an instruction diplomats say targets embassies that have displayed Ukrainian flags ever since. Russia’s invasion.
Several foreign missions in China raised the Ukrainian flag, or displayed its image in posters and candles, after the February 2022 invasion that sparked international condemnation of Russia, a close ally of China.
“Do not use the exterior walls of building facilities to display politicized propaganda to avoid inciting disputes between countries,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement dated May 10.
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The message, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, was addressed to “all embassies and representative offices of international organizations in China”.
In the announcement, the ministry did not mention Ukrainian flags or any particular “propaganda” displays, but four Beijing-based diplomats, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said it was clearly related to Ukraine’s solidarity displays.
Asked about the announcement at a briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said embassies and offices of international organizations have an obligation to respect China’s laws and regulations. He did not elaborate.
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Weeks after Russia launched what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, a poster of a Ukrainian flag on the exterior wall of the Canadian embassy has been defaced with anti-NATO graffiti, according to a Reuters witness.
The EU, UK, German and Polish embassies in Beijing have also displayed images of Ukrainian flags.
They did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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China has called for peace in Ukraine but has refrained from condemning Russia, prompting criticism from Western countries.
Some embassies in Beijing are also displaying rainbow flags in support of the LGBT community, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on Wednesday, and LGBT Pride Month in June.
It was not immediately clear whether China, which has faced criticism from rights groups for stifling LGBT activism in recent years, opposed such displays.