Norbert Röttgen, a Germany politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), took to Twitter this morning to express his shock at how readily the EU has been to adopt Chinese narratives of the coronavirus. He discussed a recent opinion piece celebrating ties between the EU and China, which had been censored by Beijing. Mr Röttgen, who has been in politics since 1994, was shocked EU officials allowed this to happen and one commentator praised him for finally seeing the light.
Mr Röttgen wrote on Twitter: “I am shocked not once but twice: First the #EU ambassadors generously adopt #Chinese narratives & then the EU representation 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!”
In response Douglas Carswell, a former independent MP for Clacton, Essex, praised the Germany politician for finally realising the shortcomings of the bloc.
Mr Carswell wrote: “Good to see leading German politicians waking up to the fundamental moral failings at the heart of EU institutions.”
Mr Röttgen’s comments come after China Daily, the voice of the Chinese Communist party, censored an opinion piece co-authored by 27 European ambassadors in Beijing.
A part of a sentence insinuating the coronavirus originated in China was removed.
A comparison between the original op-ed uploaded onto the EU embassy website and the one published on Tuesday by the China Daily showed that in a sentence beginning, “But the outbreak of the coronavirus”, the words that followed – “in China, and its subsequent spread to the rest of the world over the past three months” – were removed.
The sentence later read: “But the outbreak of the coronavirus has meant that our pre-existing plans have been temporarily side-tracked as both the EU and China are fully mobilised to tackle what has now become a challenge of truly global proportions.”
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The EU said the article was initially barred from publication due to the Chinese foreign ministry’s objection to the sentence about the origin of the outbreak.
But they agreed for an English version to be printed without the link to coronavirus.
The EU confirmed the omission had been made and that they had given the go ahead for the amended version to be published.
Virginie Battu-Henriksson, EU spokeswoman on foreign affairs, said: “The EU delegation to China was informed that the publication could only take place with the agreement of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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“The EU delegation to China made known its concerns to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in no uncertain terms, both on the process and on the request to remove part of a sentence related to the origins and spread of coronavirus to allow publication.”
She added the article was given the green light “with considerable reluctance” by the EU diplomats.
EU Ambassador to China Nicolas Chapuis told reporters at a briefing: “It is regrettable that part of the sentence about the spread of the virus has been edited.”
BBC journalist Andrew Neil commented on the publication of the article on Twitter, and said: “China Daily, voice of Chinese Communist party, publishes letter from all 27 EU ambassadors calling for greater cooperation with Beijing.
“But not before CCP censored it, with Brussels agreement.
“Brussels bowed to Beijing’s demands that published version delete references to the coronavirus originating in China and spreading worldwide from there.
“While some EU states published original version of letter, the Commission’s diplomats (EEAS) retweeted China Daily version.”
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