EU criticism of China not 'watered down'
For some media, the European Union toned down its initial assessment of fake pandemic news. According to an official EU report, China is spreading conspiracy theories and false information to extol its own handling of the crisis and blame other countries.
Rome (AsiaNews) – The European Union has not watered down its criticisms of China; instead, the Europeans believe the Chinese are spreading lies about the coronavirus.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) released a report last Friday that looks at disinformation campaigns about the pandemic for the 2-22 April period. Contrary to what some media claim, it has not been “soft” on China.
According to some observers, the first version of the document was "watered down" following pressure from China.
The New York Times said that an early version of the report refereed to China’s “global disinformation campaign" orchestrated by Beijing to blame others for the spread of the virus and "improve its international image".
For Politico.EU, a reference to Chinese criticisms for the way France reacted to the outbreak was eliminated.
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the EEAS said that what the New York Times referred to an early version was in fact a separate document intended only for internal use within the EU.
According to the official report, “Official and state-backed sources from various governments, including Russia and — to a lesser extent — China, have continued to widely target conspiracy narratives and disinformation" against the EU and neighbouring regions.
More explicitly, the document points to “evidence of a coordinated push by official Chinese sources to deflect any blame for the outbreak of the pandemic".
It details evidence of what it calls “covert Chinese operations” on social media to present China as a global leader in the fight against Covid-19 and counter the accusations that it made the crisis worse by initially trying to cover up its own outbreak.
The EU is also not going economically soft on China. Despite the recessionary effects of the pandemic crisis, the EU’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures are still in place with China at the top of its list of offenders.
China has reacted testily to the EU, following the report’s release. Its Foreign Ministry has denied it was spreading disinformation on the pandemic.
“Spreading false information and mutual accusations in the current circumstances won’t help with the international cooperation in fighting the COVID-19,” a Ministry spokesperson said.