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EU Reportedly Bowed to Beijing, Self-Censored Critique of Chinese Disinfo Campaign

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The European Union reportedly delayed the release of a report on coronavirus disinformation and removed some criticism of the Chinese government after being pressured by China, according to a multiple media accounts.

Reuters interviewed four sources and reviewed diplomatic correspondence that showed the report, which was released just before the start of the weekend in Europe, had been significantly rearranged prior to its eventual release.

The report had been scheduled to be released on April 21 but was delayed after Chinese officials saw previews of it in the media, according to Reuters.

The original report cited Beijing’s efforts to lessen mentions of the coronavirus’ Chinese origins, blame the United States for its international spread and criticize France for its slow response, The New York Times reported.

“China has continued to run a global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak of the pandemic and improve its international image,” the original report said. “Both overt and covert tactics have been observed.”

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Prior to the report’s release, China reportedly demanded that the EU to soften the language.

One diplomatic correspondence reviewed by Reuters said that a Chinese official wrote, “if the report is as described and it is released today it will be very bad for cooperation.”

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

The four anonymous sources told Reuters that the report was delayed as a result of these communications, and significant changes were made.

Do you think the European Union bowed to Chinese pressure?

For example, in the final version, the “global disinformation campaign” sentence was removed, as was any reference to the feud between China and France.

Instead, the final report read, “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,” according to Politico.

The argument over the report revisions displayed the continued battle to curb misinformation.

One government disinformation analyst wrote to her bosses that the European Union was “self-censoring to appease the Chinese Communist Party,” The Times reported.

A source also confirmed to Politico the pressure placed on the European Union.

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However, Peter Stano, a spokesman for the European External Action Service, said that The Times article made “ungrounded, inaccurate allegations and contains factually incorrect conclusions about the EEAS’ report.”

“The publications of the EEAS are categorically independent,” Stano told Politico.

“We have never bowed to any alleged external political pressure. This includes also our latest snapshot overview on disinfo trends.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Birthplace
Tucson, Arizona
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated with Honors
Education
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Location
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith




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