SINGAPORE – China tested European patience on Saturday, with a senior Chinese diplomat attributing Russia’s war on Ukraine to a failed security architecture in Europe.
It fell to Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren to challenge this very Chinese interpretation.
“I was actually a little surprised to hear that,” Ollongren told POLITICO in an interview moments after making an impromptu rebuttal of former ambassador Cui Tiankai at a panel at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore. « It’s very, very fake. »
Cui, a former envoy to the United States and unofficially advising the Chinese delegation at this important Asian security forum, told Saturday’s event that Europe has shown little success in ensuring the continent’s security and suggested that other nations at the forums should take a lesson from China and Asia instead.
“We used to look to Europe, for their experience in regional integration. But nowadays, maybe people in Europe might look to us instead,” Cui said at the rally. “We don’t impose our ways on you, but maybe you can learn something useful from our experience, from our success,” he said. said.
“And our region should also learn something very important from your lack of success. I don’t want to use the word « failure » [so] a lack of success,” said Cui, who sat next to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov on the panel.
« We will continue with our Asian ways of handling our security situation and handling all issues, » Cui said. “We don’t need an Asian NATO. We do not want to see NATO’s role expand in our region. »
While the Ukrainian minister avoided criticizing Beijing – saying only that Ukraine needed to win the war, not negotiate – Ollongren responded to Cui’s statement.
“The ambassador suggested that Europe has not managed its security very well, due to the war in Ukraine. Of course, I understand that there is a war in Ukraine, but I think it is not the result of mismanagement of our security in Europe. It is the result of not respecting the way we want to manage security in Europe,” said the Dutch minister.
“I also think that there is no disrespect for China or disrespect for Chinese culture in Europe; we have great respect for that,” she said.
Ollongren, whose country has taken an increasingly critical stance of China over ties with Russia and technological advances in the military, added after the panel that what Cui had presented was a « false perception of the situation ».
« You cannot blame Europe or European countries for Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, » he said.
Ollongren added that since Cui is no longer an ambassador, he will wait for Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu to clarify the official position in his keynote speech on Sunday.