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EU says doubts over findings led to softer China disinformation report

The EUs diplomatic service toned down criticism of Chinese d..

The EUs diplomatic service toned down criticism of Chinese disinformation following doubts about whether some findings were justified or ready for publication, a senior official said Monday.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) in late April published a report on “narratives and disinformation” around the coronavirus pandemic that was notably softer than a previous leaked version reported by POLITICO. Most strikingly, references to China running a “global disinformation” campaign and Chinese criticism of Frances reaction to the pandemic were absent — prompting accusations that Brussels watered down its criticism in response to Chinese diplomatic pressure.

Speaking at a live-streamed event, Lutz Güllner, the head of the EEAS strategic communications unit that drafted the report, stuck to his institutions line of defense that Brussels did not bow to Chinese pressure but that there had been two versions of the document, one internal and one public, which do not necessarily have to include the same content.

Güllner said some differences between the public and internal reports followed doubts about whether the EEAS analysts had drawn the right conclusions based on the information they gathered.

“[The public report] is quite close to what we have also told our colleagues [internally]. Only a few things have been taken out, of which we were perhaps not entirely sure: Is it really justified to call it disinformation?” Güllner said at the discussion organized by the German state of Hesses representation to the EU, adding: “Everything we write in our public reports must be watertight.”

The public EEAS report names “Russia and — to a lesser extent — China” as the main culprits behind disinformation.

“You have to be careful … not to lump information activities or hyper-information activities together with disinformation, and then you are no longer able to clearly say: who is actually doing what?” he went on, suggesting an effort to distinguish the degree of Beijings activities from those led by Moscow.

While Russia was still responsible for “the lions share” of disinformation targeting EU citizens, Güllner said, his team had registered “more and more Chinese activitRead More – Source

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