EU ‘bowed to pressure from Beijing and censored letter by deleting reference to coronavirus starting in China’

BRUSSELS bowed to pressure from Beijing by deleting a reference to the fact the deadly pandemic starting in China from a public letter, it's been reported.

The EU agreed to remove a reference to the "outbreak of the coronavirus in China" from an opinion piece which explained why an EU-China summit had been abandoned.

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The European External Action Service (EEAS) apparently excised the key passage after coming under pressure from China’s foreign ministry.

The censored version of the letter was later published in the state-run China Daily newspaper, reports the Telegraph.

“It is of course regrettable to see that the sentence about the spread of the virus has been edited,” said Nicolas Chapuis, the EU’s ambassador to China.

He co-signed the opinion piece along with the 27 other ambassadors who wrote the letter to celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations between Beijing and the EU.

Some politicians in Europe say they are far from happy about what happened but pen pushers insisted the letter would not have been published unless the change was made.

Norbert Rottgen, the head of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said he was shocked.

“First the EU ambassadors generously adopt Chinese narratives and then on top of that the EU representation accepts Chinese censorship of the joint op-ed, he said

"Speaking with one voice is important but it has to reflect our shared European values and interests."

The EEAS admitted the decision was made reluctantly.

A spokesman 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. On this specific case the EU delegation decided to proceed with publication with considerable reluctance because it considered it important to communicate the key messages.”

Just two weeks ago the EEAS was forced to deny it had caved to pressure from China to water down a report into how Beijing is pumping out fake news about the killer virus.

Eurocrats were accused of "self-censoring to appease the Chinese Communist Party" after a damning dossier was rewritten at the last minute.

The EEAS accused Beijing of running a "global disinformation" campaign and specifically targeting the French government.

But references to both were removed and other language softened in the final published version of the report.

Its release was delayed so it could be rewritten to tone down the criticism of China, according to emails seen by the New York Times.

President Trump previously claimed the outbreak was the result of a "horrible mistake" after saying  he’d seen evidence the virus originated in a Chinese lab.

The US president added the Chinese communist regime then tried to cover up their Covid-19 blunder.

He said: "Personally, I think they made a horrible mistake, and they didn’t want to admit it.

"We wanted to go in, but they didn’t want us there. They made a mistake, they tried to cover it, like a fire… They couldn’t put out the fire."

Trump’s comments came after he told reporters he had seen proof that would suggest the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan but said he could not go into details.

Others have linked the outbreak to a food market in the city – where the first virus victims were detected.

Fox News reported this month that US officials are investigating the Wuhan Institute of Virology and trying to form a timeline of what the Chinese government knew and when.

The news outlet had previously reported the virus started in the lab as part of China’s effort to show the country has the same capabilities of identifying and combating viruses as the US.

China then bizarrely 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.

Beijing has been accused of not reacting quickly enough to contain the killer bug, which has killed more than 270,000 people globally.

British politicians have also been highly critical of China, which led to their ambassador to the UK to hit out.

Liu Xiaoming said "such talks are a political virus. If they go unchecked they'll poison UK-China relations and even international solidarity".

In direct reference to Mr Trump's accusations, he added: "They want to pass the buck over their lack of response, lack of efforts to contain the virus, to China.

"There's a game of blaming, scapegoating. It is not helpful for the international response."

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