ambassador Lu Shaye had already been summoned by the French foreign ministry last April over posts and tweets by the embassy defending Beijing's response to the pandemic and criticising the West's handling of the outbreak.
Lu, an envoy known for his aggressive and outspoken comments on the embassy's Twitter account, has targeted several people recently including Antoine Bondaz, a China specialist at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS) think-tank.
Starting on Friday, he derided Bondaz as a "small-time hoodlum," a "crazed hyena" and "ideological troll" with "anti-Chinese" stances after he complained about Chinese pressure on French lawmakers hoping to visit Taiwan
The foreign ministry said it would remind Lu of "the elementary rules as set out by the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations ... the embassy is requested to conform strictly with them."
Earlier on Monday, the Chinese embassy said the EU sanctions were based on lies and misinformation, which was an interference in China's internal affairs. However, the embassy wrote in a Tweet that the ambassador would go to the foreign ministry on Tuesday to discuss the EU sanctions and questions linked to Taiwan.
The French foreign ministry said it would also summon the ambassador to protest the decision by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to sanction several European nationals, including French Member of the European Parliament Raphaël Glucksmann.
"It is not by attacking academic freedom, freedom of expression and fundamental democratic freedoms that China will respond to the legitimate concerns of the European Union, nor that it will foster dialogue with the 27" countries in the EU, ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing.
France's foreign ministry has summoned China's ambassador over repeated insults and threats aimed at French lawmakers and a researcher and a decision by Beijing to sanction officials across the European Union.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but he has managed to save his regime at the cost of Syria’s destruction, thanks to his Russian and Iranian allies. However after 10 years of war, is he really the master of Syria?
In the spring of 2011, the discourse on Middle East desks in Western capitals was dominated by speculations on how long Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would last in power. The prevailing view was that it would be a matter of weeks, months perhaps, before the strongman of Syria was ousted, like his Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts, by protests sweeping the Arab world.
But a decade after the first demonstrations against his regime broke out, Assad is still in power in a country in physical ruins, economically on its knees and with a populace traumatised by an endless conflict. The Syrian war has cost several hundreds of thousand lives, displaced millions and plunged more than 80 percent of the population into poverty, according to the UN.
Saved by the interventions of his Russian and Iranian allies – with whom he must now deal with in his own country – the Syrian president has regained military control of large parts of Syria, even if violent clashes and the presence of jihadists are still a reality in certain areas.
Assad may be accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but there appears to be nothing to prevent the 55-year-old leader, who inherited the presidency following his father’s death in 2000, from winning yet another presidential election, this one scheduled for the summer.
A president indebted to the Russians and Iranians
"He’s still in power and we do not see what are the alternatives that could be opposed to him, especially from the West’s point of view. As for his Russian and Iranian allies, they have no reason to replace him. So yes, he won his bet to save his regime," explained Fabrice Balanche, a Syria expert at the University of Lyon 2, in an interview with FRANCE 24.
"Unlike [Tunisia’s] Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, [Egypt’s] Hosni Mubarak or [Libya’s] Colonel Gaddafi, who were all swept away by the Arab revolts, Bashar al-Assad has remained in power by making his population pay a high price. We can say he’s under the tutelage of his Russian and Iranian protectors, but the fact remains that he is indeed the Syrian president, it’s not Vladimir Putin, it’s Bashar al-Assad," noted Antoine Mariotti, FRANCE 24’s Middle East correspondent and author of the book, "La Honte de l'Occident: Les Coulisses du fiasco syrien" [The Shame of the West: Behind the Scenes of the Syrian Fiasco], which was published in France last week.
But Ziad Majed – a professor at the American University of Paris and a co-author of “Dans la tête de Bachar al-Assad" ["In the head of Bashar al-Assad"] – believes that Assad is no longer master of his destiny, nor of the Syrian conflict and its resolution.
"Even if the departure of the Syrian president is no longer demanded by any foreign actor in the conflict, and this issue is no longer a priority since the Russian intervention has secured the regime, Moscow and Tehran have made it clear to Bashar al-Assad that they are his only hope of staying in power,” explained Majed. “And this reality could weaken him if ever – and this is far from being the case today – serious negotiations were to begin to find a solution with a political transition.”
A ‘pillar’ with limited sovereignty
The Syrian president though appears to be satisfied with his limited sovereignty over his own country. “He knows how much he owes the Russians and the Iranians," said Mariotti. “Without their political, diplomatic and especially military support, it’s not certain that he would still be in power today.”
Assad has no choice but to accept the current situation because he needs his allies to protect him on the international stage as well as domestically, to complete the reconquest of Syria. “In the East, they know how to be extremely patient, and Bashar al-Assad is playing it safe in order to remain indispensable in their eyes," explained Mariotti. “Finally, what Moscow and Tehran want is the stability of the country, and as long as he is able to ensure this, the current configuration will remain unchanged, because he is the pillar on which everything rests.”
While Syrian territory is under the influence of several foreign actors in the conflict such as Russia, Iran and Turkey, which directly or through their allies control parts of the country, Assad's real power appears to have weakened.
"To understand who controls what in Syria," Balanche explained, it’s critical to look at control of the borders, because they are a marker of sovereignty and a projection of regional power. “Today, the Syrian army directly controls only 15 percent of the country's borders, basically the stretch that separates Syria from Jordan and a small part of the border in northern Lebanon."
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- Hundreds of protesters risked arrest to demonstrate outside a Hong Kong court, where 47 pro-democracy activists appeared Monday charged with subversion