China Tried To Get The EU Not To Release A Report On China's COVID-19 Disinformation Efforts

from the and-that's-not-disinformation dept

It's becoming an unfortunate regularity that we keep writing posts highlighting how China is trying to suppress criticism around the globe regarding its terrible handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we've said over and over again, what the world needs right now is radical transparency regarding the disease and various responses, and instead we're getting standard operating procedures from the Chinese government which is all about suppressing bad information and denying everything (with a healthy does of spreading more disinfo everywhere -- make sure you check the comments here a few hours after we post this, because it seems to show up in a timely manner).

The latest example comes from the EU, where the Chinese government pressured officials in Brussels not to release a report about the Chinese government's disinformation efforts regarding COVID-19. While the EU did eventually release it, it put it out on a Friday evening (the classic news dump of where you hide stuff) and some of the criticism of China was supposedly "rearranged or removed."

Four diplomatic sources told Reuters that the report had initially been slated for release on April 21 but was delayed after Chinese officials picked up on a Politico news report hat previewed its findings.

A senior Chinese official contacted European officials in Beijing the same day to tell them that, “if the report is as described and it is released today it will be very bad for cooperation,” according to EU diplomatic correspondence reviewed by Reuters.

The correspondence quoted senior Chinese foreign ministry official Yang Xiaoguang as saying that publishing the report would make Beijing “very angry” and accused European officials of trying to please “someone else” - something the EU diplomats understood to be a reference to Washington.

The four sources said the report had been delayed as a result, and a comparison of the internal version of the report obtained by Reuters and the final version published late Friday showed several differences.

For reasons that are unclear, Reuters, despite breaking this story and it seeming to be an opportune time and place to do so, does not link to the report that was released. You can read it here. It seems to focus mostly on Russian disinfo campaigns, and, while it does include China, suggests that China is less active in such disinformation campaigns. Also, the key parts about China are at the very end of the document, which is apparently not where they were originally.

Once again, I completely understand that this is status quo for the Chinese government, but honestly, you would hope that in the midst of a global pandemic insecure, thin-skinned governments (and yes I'm including my own government in this) would grow up, get over it, and focus on providing the public with real info, rather than spreading nonsense and FUD.

Filed Under: china, covid-19, disinfo, disinformation, eu, pressure


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  • identicon
    Dave, 30 Apr 2020 @ 4:15pm

    You can see China trying to fight a desperate propaganda war despite the mountains of evidence against it piling up. The higher those mountains get, the more vicious China's efforts become. And at some point, China will find this situation become too much for it to handle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2020 @ 4:28pm

    'How dare you tell the world our leader is naked?!'

    It seems to focus mostly on Russian disinfo campaigns, and, while it does include China, suggests that China is less active in such disinformation campaigns. Also, the key parts about China are at the very end of the document, which is apparently not where they were originally.

    Barring parts being removed that showed heavier use of disinformation/propaganda/lying on the part of the chinese government(and given their recent responses so far I find it hard to believe that they are really cutting back on that sort of thing) I can only assume that if the report says that they are 'less active' in that sort of behavior the primary objection was that they were listed at all.

    It's slightly more difficult to con someone when you're a known liar after all, and propaganda is less effective when you've been called out for pushing it, so it would make sense that their tantrum would be over being listed at all in a report talking about propaganda/disinformation.

    Of course the punchline to this latest debacle is that yet again their attempt to brush something under the rug likely just resulted in even more attention to it, because whether through habit or sheer bloody stupidity they just can't help themselves and just have to try to hide anything that might look them look bad, something that might work inside the country but doesn't fly so well in countries where they don't get to dictate the narrative and punish people for saying the 'wrong' thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 30 Apr 2020 @ 4:40pm

      Re: 'How dare you tell the world our leader is naked?!'

      It's slightly more difficult to con someone when you're a known liar after all

      Only if the someone doesn't want to be conned.

      *glances in the vague direction of DC*

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2020 @ 6:31pm

      Re: 'How dare you tell the world our leader is naked?!'

      I think China is merely less active in the, "Draino enemas can cure covid" and, "It's a secret bio-weapon created by the CDC, but it's not worse than the flu and death counts and symptoms are exaggerated" departments. They are just full-on into denialism regarding their handling of the outbreak and epidemic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2020 @ 7:49pm

      Re: 'How dare you tell the world our leader is naked?!'

      I can believe China is less involved in these disinformation campaigns because they are SO much more blatant and obvious compared to the russian ones. I've seen youtube "ad" videos claiming to be from neutral parties talking about how great chinas responses are to various crises and other problems and it's eye rolling.

      That said, nothing from China is remotely trustable in any fashion, whether official or unofficial.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 30 Apr 2020 @ 5:54pm

    "...the US government which is all about suppressing bad information and denying everything."

    Fixed that part.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 12:09am

    China suppresses criticism the same way you do, they hide dissenting opinions. You justify it in the name of corporatism, they justify it in the name of the CCP.

    Both are disgusting filthy totalitarian lies.

    God bless America, may it return to the fore soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Rachel (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 1:14am

    How is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) impacting the BFSI in

    Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, The most impacted is the financial sector; this perhaps could be the most severe challenge faced by banks and NBFC's. See how COVID-19 is affecting the banking industry? https://bit.ly/3aTKIVO

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 6:05am

      Re: How is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) impacting the BFS

      "The most impacted is the financial sector"

      Again, trying to put a price upon a life. How much is a person's life worth? Apparently, it depends upon who is being asked to pay.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 3:48am

    WTF?

    Disinformation is rife in western media, and daily spews from the POTUS.

    Who is the pot and who is the kettle?

    Earliest likely case in PRC is mid November. By mid December they had identified the unusual rise in pneumonia, and the three weeks later had provided the DNA sequence to the WHO.

    Looks like a pretty fast response to me. Compare to SARS1, MERS, H1N1.

    But now, the US needs to blame anyone else it can for its insanely stupid response.

    I didn't think I'd see a headline like this at TD.

    Does PRC mislead? Yes. How about US?

    You need to understand that PRC are trying to counter the US push to have an "investigation" on the "source" of the virus. This is a pure political stunt to support internal US politics with more yellow baiting. And why are you contributing towards that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 6:09am

      Re: WTF?

      Why are you wearing blinders? There are no innocent parties when it comes to nations and the evil things they do. It is a matter of degrees as to how much they fucked things up this time. Hopefully they do not try to use this as an excuse for the next friggin war. We cannot afford the ones we already started.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 7:21am

      Wtf indeed

      Can't tell if our resident 50-cent member finally figured out they should probably stop signing in or someone else decided to have a go at it since the other one didn't show up...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TFG, 1 May 2020 @ 9:10am

      Re: WTF?

      You are willfully blind.

      Direct quote from the article:

      "Once again, I completely understand that this is status quo for the Chinese government, but honestly, you would hope that in the midst of a global pandemic insecure, thin-skinned governments (and yes I'm including my own government in this) would grow up, get over it, and focus on providing the public with real info, rather than spreading nonsense and FUD."

      And, of course, the words "my own government" lead to a TechDirt detailing the US government's own brand of misinformation and censorship:

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200422/16580244354/censorship-kills-us-governments-f ocus-covid-19-messaging-over-actual-protection-did-real-damage.shtml

      Both the pot and kettle are being called out for lying. Nobody gets a pass.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 3:33pm

      Re: WTF?

      Yo! 50 cent! what up man?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 6:01am

    Chinese Govt. Official:
    We officially can neither confirm nor deny that we intentionally, or accidentally, Corona...but we got these test kits for ya!

    Some theorize that Corona is the Chinese governments response to US trade tariffs. Really

    If I were writing a conspiracy book about this:
    Corona is a bio-weapon created by the Chinese government to completely wipe out (or severely diminish) the population of it's enemies. Think of it as a biological neutron bomb that kills people, but leaves structures in tact. This weapon is genetically engineered to look in-discriminant because it kills/sickens some Chinese people initially as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 4 May 2020 @ 7:27am

      Re:

      "If I were writing a conspiracy book about this:"

      ...then that book would sort of suck.

      The unholy triad of WMD's - Biological, Chemical and Nuclear - are the basis of the semi-official policy among the permanent members in the nuclear club. If one such WMD gets deployed against a member state, they retaliate using the same type of weapon.

      So that conspiracy had to be based on the underlying plot that some lunatic wanted to start actual armageddon.

      Now, unless your book is all about the premise that a bona fide doomsday cult in in command of the PRC the idea of a chinese (or anyone elses) "bioweapon" falls pretty damn flat.

      "...This weapon is genetically engineered to look in-discriminant..."

      Every pathogen is subject to uncontrollable mutation so that "chinese-only" weapon (if you could even find any marker solid and simple enough to tag it with) would remain targetted for all of one generation. After which it woulod be completely indiscriminate and everyone would be at risk.

      It's why the concept of the bioweapon has always been considered in the same light as large-scale suicide bomb belts, kamikaze flights or the use of hand grenades as close combat weaponry.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 6:14am

    "Some theorize that Corona"

    Accusations are not theory.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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