EU ‘bowed to pressure from Beijing to censor a letter removing reference that the coronavirus originated in China’
- EU pressured to remove a reference to the ‘outbreak of the coronavirus in China’
- The ‘origin’ opinion piece was published in the state-run China Daily newspaper
- The letter ‘would never have been published without the edit’ – The Telegraph
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The European Union has excised reference in a public letter that the coronavirus pandemic originated in China, after receiving pressure to do so from the Chinese foreign ministry.
The European External Action Service was pressured to remove a reference to the ‘outbreak of the coronavirus in China’ as an explanation for an abandoned EU-China summit.
The opinion piece was published in the state-run China Daily newspaper.
Pictured: An aerial view of the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China
The EU received pressure to take out the origin claim after accusing the country of spreading falsehoods about coronavirus.
The EU’s ambassador to China, Nicolas Chapuis, who co-wrote the opinion piece, said it was ‘regrettable’ the sentence about the spread of COVID-19 had been ‘edited’.
It had been written to mark nearly a half century of diplomatic relations between the European Union and Beijing.
Norbert Röttgen, head of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, was said to be in shock ‘not once but twice’, according to a report in The Telegraph.
Adding: ‘First the EU ambassadors generously adopt Chinese narratives and then the EU representation 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.’
The letter would never have been published without the edit, according to The Telegraph.
A European External Action Service spokesperson said: ‘The EU delegation was informed that publication could only take place with agreement of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs.
‘The EU delegation made known its concerns. The EU continues to advocate a free press.
‘In this case the EU delegation decided to proceed with publication with reluctance because it considered it important to communicate the key messages.’
Pictured: Virologists wearing high grade protective clothing inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan
China is seeking to quell an investigation into claims the pandemic originated there, spurred on by EU influence in the World Health Organisation.
America has shown support for the UN resolution on a probe into the origin.
But China hit back at the US yesterday accusing it of shifting focus over COVID-19 after President Donald Trump claimed the impact of the virus had been worse than Pearl Harbour or the 9/11 attacks.
The US-China tit-for-tat has seen President Trump proclaim the virus originated from a Wuhan laboratory.
China hit back saying the US military planted it there.
‘We urge the US side to stop shifting the blame to China and turn to facts,’ said Hua Chunying, from China’s foreign ministry.
China said scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were trained in America and France. French President Emmanuel Macron said there was no evidence linking the Wuhan lab to the virus.