It's the television broadcast that has shocked political leaders right across the world.
Lu Shaye, an outspoken ambassador of a country which only weeks ago stressed its desire for peace talks amid the ongoing Ukraine war, denounced the sovereignty of former Soviet states.
"These ex-USSR countries don't have actual status in international law because there is no international agreement to materialise their sovereign status," China's ambassador to France said in a studio interview aired on French network LCI on Friday night (local time).
He made the comment in response to a question asking whether Crimea was part of Ukraine, which he stated was historically part of Russia.
His claims Ukraine and other former Soviet states aren't actually countries triggered an outpouring of anger from European nations, with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky branding the remark as "totally unacceptable".
A spokesperson for Germany's foreign ministry said it had taken note of Lu's comments "with great astonishment, especially as the statements are not in line with the Chinese position we have known so far".
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would summon Chinese representatives to officially ask for clarification.
He said Beijing was "sending the same message" as Moscow on questioning the sovereignty of former Soviet countries, which he described as "dangerous".
China's foreign ministry was in full damage control on Monday, rejecting any Beijing allegiance with Lu's viewpoint.
"China’s position is consistent and clear. China respects all countries’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity," spokesperson Mao Ning stressed on Monday.
In a further effort to distance themselves from the statement, the Chinese embassy in Paris said Lu's comments "were not a political declaration but an expression of his personal views".
It comes as fears grow over China's relationship with Russia, despite Beijing's insistence it remains a "fair" intermediate amid the Ukraine crisis.
However China has notably failed to condemn Russia's invasion and President Xi Jinping has continued to strengthen ties with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Just last month the pair pledged to shape a new world order.
Ambassador's remarks linked to Beijing, expert warns
And while Lu has often been associated with an aggressive form of diplomacy adopted by several prominent Chinese voices, experts fear such posturing has direct ties with the Chinese Communist Party.
"He’s a diplomat, he represents his government, so it reflects some thinking within China about the issue,” Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a professor of political science at Hong Kong Baptist University told CNN.
Foreign Minister Landsbergis also offered a damning assessment of the lack of trust in China's claims.
“If anyone is still wondering why the Baltic States don’t trust China to ‘broker peace in Ukraine’, here’s a Chinese ambassador arguing that Crimea is Russian and our countries’ borders have no legal basis," he said.
If anyone is still wondering why the Baltic States don't trust China to "broker peace in Ukraine", here's a Chinese ambassador arguing that Crimea is Russian and our countries' borders have no legal basis. pic.twitter.com/JaloJnSEx3
— Gabrielius Landsbergis🇱🇹 (@GLandsbergis) April 22, 2023
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