BuzzFeed's Alberto Nardelli points out that the European Union failed to discuss edits, including the removal of references to the spread of COVID-19, in an op-ed jointly published by all 27 member states in a Chinese-owned newspaper.
Some European officials did not find out about the secret edits Brussels made with the Chinese until after the opinion piece was published. One diplomat told BuzzFeed there was no discussion about the edits with Brussels, saying there was "irony of the incident happening just a few days after World Press Freedom Day on Sunday."
Another diplomat said Brussels' decision to make the edit as per China's request is "weak," with another diplomat saying member states being shunned from knowing about the edits is "really bad."
The piece was published in the China Daily Newspaper and after reviewing the same report but uploaded onto the EU embassy website, it becomes clear this could be the section China had removed: "But the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, and its subsequent spread to the rest of the world over the past three months."
China limiting freedom of speech, or better yet, attempting to control the global narrative about the virus, marks a dangerous period for the world. One where China continues to coverup the origins of the pandemic.
An EU spokesperson told BuzzFeed that the opinion piece was edited on the demands "of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
"The EU Delegation decided nevertheless to proceed with the publication of the Op-Ed with considerable reluctance, as it considered it important to communicate very important messages on EU policy priorities, notably on climate change and sustainability, human rights, multilateralism and the global response to the coronavirus."
EU & EU27 ambassadors have published an op-ed in China Daily to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China. I understand China's MFA had references to the coronavirus spreading from China removed from the piece and hasn't allowed publication of a Chinese version— Alberto Nardelli (@AlbertoNardelli) May 6, 2020
The Daily Express said Germany, France, and Italy's embassies in China also published unedited versions of the article.
Norbert Rottgen, a Germany politician of the Christian Democratic Union, said he was shocked when he discovered the edits.
"Firs the EU ambassadors generously adopt Chinese narratives, and then the EU representative on top accepts Chinese censorship of the joint op-ed.
"Speaking with one voice is important, but it has to reflect our shared European values and interests."
At the same time, China is locked in a heated debate with the Trump administration on the origins of the virus. President Trump claims the virus could have come from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
It becomes increasingly evident that the folks in Brussels are an embarrassment for the entire bloc as it bows down to China's demands. Europe is weak.