Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned about the upcoming arrival of Lu Shaye, 54, to the Chinese Embassy in France, replacing current ambassador Zhai Jun. The diplomat, a fluent French speaker who has served as China's ambassador to Canada since 2017, has earned a reputation as a pest to journalists by systematically accusing them of "disseminating a negative portrait” of China as soon as their articles displeased him. Shaye’s undiplomatic style will sharply contrast with the relative discretion of his predecessor.
"A diplomat should not try to intimidate the media in the country in which he is posted, much less give them instructions,” insists Cedric Alviani, the head of the RSF East Asia bureau. "The very fact that Lu Shaye is still an ambassador despite his brash words is indicative of the aggressive and uninhibited attitude with which Beijing tries to impose its propaganda outside its borders."
Immediately after being posted to Ottawa in 2017, Lu Shaye did not hesitate to attack the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying it had better "spend less time bowing down to Canadian journalists preoccupied with human rights and get on with negotiating an important free trade agreement with China." More recently, Shaye accused Canadian media of “Western egotism and white supremacy” and disparaged their work on the ground that they are in a lesser position to judge China’s development compared to the Chinese people. He also regularly complained of the "biased" and "slanderous" character of their articles denouncing the persecution of Uyghurs.
Lu Shaye is not the first Chinese official to attack foreign media. The Chinese ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou, also recently embarked on a crusade against journalists. In June 2016, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on an official visit to Canada, also publicly disparaged a journalist for asking an “irresponsible” question about human rights in China.
China is one of the world's largest prisons for journalists, with at least 111 of them behind bars in life-threatening conditions. In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by RSF, the country ranks 177th out of 180.