Corona report: is Europe kowtowing to China?
China appears to have succeeded in watering down an EU report that clearly listed Beijing's mistakes in the coronavirus crisis. According to the European External Action Service (EEAS) report, government sources in Russia and China have been spreading false information about the pandemic. Commentators discuss the motives behind Beijing's disinformation policy and how Europe should respond.
Self-confident on the path to hegemony
Many people still haven't understood how intent Beijing is on becoming a global superpower, British security expert Edward Lucas points out in BNS:
“[T]he Chinese leadership is moving into the vacuum left by the United States, accelerating towards Xi Jinping’s goal to be the world’s most powerful country by 2049. Not only has China dodged blame for the pandemic, it is taking credit for dealing with it. ... We do not have a strategy for dealing with China. But China has a strategy for dealing with us.Time is short. Look at the way the Chinese leadership treats its own people. Then imagine how they would like to treat us.”
A danger to the rest of the world
China's conduct in the coronavirus crisis is further proof that Beijing can't be trusted, The Daily Telegraph concludes:
“It refuses to countenance an international inquiry into the origins of the virus, and has instructed its diplomats and state-controlled media companies to launch a campaign of relentless misinformation. ... It will abrogate its treaty responsibilities. It will cover up the truth. It will bully and intimidate its neighbours. It will capture international institutions and use them for its own purposes. It will abuse international laws and norms until it gets what it wants. It cannot be trusted, it is a danger to the world: it is time for us to get real.”
A people held hostage
Critics should be careful not to tar all Chinese with the same brush, Le Temps warns:
“The risk of an ideological confrontation is emerging. The Chinese as a whole could be made to pay for this, since Beijing's critics consider it less and less useful to differentiate between the actions of the authorities and those of the population as a whole. ... The trap of international condemnation would thus close on an entire people. In reality, however, the Communist Party is primarily responsible for this trap, with its goal of erasing all distinctions between state, nation and individual: it has taken its citizens hostage.”
Beijing is fighting for its reputation, observes La Vanguardia:
“The image offered by Xi Jinping's regime has a double face. An internal one in which the official narrative about a struggle and victory against the virus has increased nationalism in Chinese society. And an external one which China is finding far more difficult to manage, in which official figures are questioned and official information is doubted, and this could erode the image of the image and influence of the Asian giant. China's role in the post-Covid-19 world is currently one of the biggest unknown variables.”
Rome currying favour with Beijing
Italy is being far too uncritical in its dealings with Beijing, Corriere della Sera complains:
“The fact is that via the fake news tracking website EuVsDisinfo, Europe has decided to take an important step in drawing attention to the Asian case. For the first time in many years the Western countries are adopting a united stance and asking China for information. ... Italy, on the other hand, seems to have tacitly adopted the political line of [Cinque Stelle politician] Alessandro Di Battista, who is in no doubt that the Western world will perish ('China will win World War III without firing a single shot.') and therefore argues that from now on Italy should cosy up to the country of Xi Jinping.”