The EU’s diplomatic arm dismissed accusations that it has yielded to pressure from Beijing to scale down denunciation of disinformation campaigns emanating from China. The EU External Action Service (EEAS) released a report raising the alarm over state-sponsored fake news targeting audiences in member states and other countries.
However, the EEAS is facing allegations that the final report toned down criticism towards China’s involvement after an unpublished original was leaked by Politico and picked up by the Chinese delegation in Brussels.
“We have never bowed to any alleged external political pressure,” an EEAS spokesperson told Euractiv. The diplomatic service explained that it issues two versions of the report, one for internal use and another redacted version for public consumption. The text published by Politico was the so-called internal version.
The final report was published on April 24th, three days after its expected release, and Reuters said that it was delayed after intervention by the Chinese officials. The news agency reported that it had reviewed diplomatic correspondence showing that, the day the document was leaked, a senior Chinese official warned Brussels that “if the report is as described and it is released today it will be very bad for cooperation”.
The EEAS denies and backpedalling from its original stance but not everyone has been left impressed and voices for EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell to clarify the situation are getting louder. The vice-chair of the European People’s Party heading foreign affairs, Sandra Kalniete, urged the High Representative to explain “in detail and without delay” the allegations surrounding the report.