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West can no longer twist information or disseminate disinformation

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-16 08:28
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People rally during a demonstration against war and the supply of weapons to Ukraine, in Cologne, Germany. PANAMA PICTURES

Just 10 days after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February 2022, the European Union banned the broadcasting of Russia Today and Sputnik across EU territory, accusing Russia and its media outlets of "information manipulation" and spreading "disinformation".

The measures, in force since March 2,2022, have resulted in increasing one-sided reports on the conflict being channeled to the EU's 450 million people, because the EU has been supporting Ukraine and therefore ensuring that all information on the conflict is in its favor.

For example, given the close ties between Brussels and Kyiv, there has never been a talk by any EU official or a report by any EU news media outlet about the casualty on the Ukrainian side, although there has been ample speculation on Russian deaths, from 20,000 to 100,000 deaths.

Right since the Nord Stream 2 pipeline explosion on Sept 26, 2022, EU officials have been dismissing any suggestion of the involvement of the United States, NATO or Ukraine in spreading disinformation on the attack.

Sweden, Denmark and Germany all have conducted investigations into the Nord Stream 2 pipeline explosion but refuse to reveal the findings, to the surprise of the international community. The investigative reporting by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh in February shows that the US was behind the sabotage, while in the past weeks, US and European media have published reports suggesting Ukraine could be the perpetrator.

EU officials continue to dodge the question. I didn't get an appropriate reply when I asked a European Commission spokesperson last week why the EU has not shown any sense of urgency in identifying the culprit of the attack on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was critical to the EU's energy security too.

In my conversation with Europeans, many agreed that due to the news blackout, they were not getting both sides of the story about the Ukraine crisis. For example, panelists at EU think tank events or on Euronews talking about the conflict almost always have identical views.

It is a reflection of the extremely sad political correctness in the EU, or a manipulation of information and spreading of disinformation.

On the other hand, Chinese news media outlets have been doing a better job in presenting both sides of the story. This is largely due to the fact that China does not believe in taking sides and instead has maintained good relations with both Russia and Ukraine.

However, some EU officials see such balanced coverage as jeopardizing their efforts to manipulate information or spread disinformation. The joint statement by the EU-US Trade and Technology Council on May 31 was supposed to be about their bid to divide the world in terms of technology, but it also included words on foreign information manipulation and interference in third countries, and accused China of amplifying Russian disinformation narratives about the conflict.

The truth is that China's views on the conflict are similar to those of other developing countries such as India, South Africa and Indonesia.

In February, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced the launch of the Information Sharing and Analysis Center — a new platform under the European External Action Service framework — to counter so-called disinformation campaigns by Russia and China.

The first EEAS report on the subject released in February accused China of portraying itself as a reliable partner and as a world leader while degrading the West. It also described the promotion of positive views of China and the Communist Party of China globally as "threat actor incidents".

This is absurd, not least because EU and US leaders could be accused of the same when they eulogize themselves or their societies or economies.

The West has been manipulating global information and spreading disinformation for decades. It is time for the world to also listen to the voices of China and other developing nations, many of which were once brutally colonized by the West.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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