EU Kowtows to China, Revises Coronavirus Disinfo Report After CCP Pressure

Xi Jinping
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File

The European Union rewrote and softened a report that detailed the coronavirus disinformation campaign carried out by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after receiving pressure from apparatchiks in Beijing.

The initial version of the report from the European External Action Service (EEAS) pointed to Chinese propaganda, such as blaming the United States for spreading the Wuhan virus, accusing France of responding too slowly to the pandemic, and claims that French officials had used racial slurs about the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom — claims denied by France.

“China has continued to run a global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak of the pandemic and improve its international image,” the initial report stated, according to the New York Times.

Before the report was released, however, officials from the communist-run country began pressuring the European Union — and the bloc ultimately bowed to the pressure, removing any reference to the “global disinformation campaign” carried out by China as well as the diplomatic spat between the CCP and France.

“The Chinese are already threatening with reactions if the report comes out,” wrote EU diplomat Lutz Güllner in a leaked email.

In another email, Esther Osorio, a senior adviser to the EU’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, wrote that the report should focus less on the disinformation campaigns carried out by China “as we already see heavy pushback from CN [China]”.

A spokesman for the EU, Peter Stano, denied that the report was modified as a result of pressure from the Chinese regime, but analysts that worked on the report say otherwise.

One analyst wrote that European Union diplomats were “self-censoring to appease the Chinese Communist Party” and that “appeasement will set a terrible precedent and encourage similar coercion in the future.”

Jakub Janda, the executive director of the European Values Centre for Security Policy, said that the Chinese pressure campaign was being used as “a test” for the CCP to see what level of influence it has over the bloc.

The European Union is currently trying to secure better trade arrangements for European companies in China. Trade between China and the EU was estimated to total $1.6 billion per day, making the bloc China’s top trading partner. The EU has also been heavily reliant on Chinese medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic — although much of it has been revealed to be faulty.

In response to the report, China’s top diplomat to the EU told the Financial Times: “We do better to forget the politics now,” adding: “We are in a battle, a battle between the sapiens and the virus.”

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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