The original report cited Beijing’s efforts to lessen mentions of the coronavirus’ Chinese origins, blame the United States for its international spread and criticize France for its slow response, The New York Times reported.
“China has continued to run a global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak of the pandemic and improve its international image,” the original report said. “Both overt and covert tactics have been observed.”
Prior to the report’s release, China reportedly demanded that the EU to soften the language.
One diplomatic correspondence reviewed by Reuters said that a Chinese official wrote, “if the report is as described and it is released today it will be very bad for cooperation.”
“The Chinese are already threatening with reactions if the report comes out,” EU diplomat Lutz Güllner wrote in a Tuesday email seen by The Times.
The four anonymous sources told Reuters that the report was delayed as a result of these communications, and significant changes were made.
For example, in the final version, the “global disinformation campaign” sentence was removed, as was any reference to the feud between China and France.
Instead, the final report read, “Official and state-backed sources from various governments, including Russia and — to a lesser extent — China, have continued to widely target conspiracy narratives and disinformation,” according to Politico.
The argument over the report revisions displayed the continued battle to curb misinformation.