BEIJING: China said on Monday it respected the "sovereign state status" of all ex-Soviet countries, after Beijing's ambassador to France sparked outrage in Europe by questioning the sovereignty of those nations.
"China respects the sovereign state status of the participating republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters.
Beijing's ambassador to France Lu Shaye triggered a furor after suggesting that countries that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union "don't have effective status under international law because there is not an international agreement confirming their status as sovereign nations".
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell branded the remarks "unacceptable", adding in a tweet the EU "can only suppose these declarations do not represent China's official policy".
Mao told journalists: "China respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries and upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
"After the collapse of the Soviet Union, China was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with relevant countries.
"Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China has always adhered to the principle of mutual respect and equality to develop bilateral friendly and cooperative relations."