The European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic arm, last week admitted that a letter by the EU ambassador to Beijing and the ambassadors to China of the EU’s 27 member countries was published by China Daily, the mouthpiece of the country’s ruling Communist Party, only after “part of a sentence related to the origins and spread of the coronavirus was removed.”
Borrell, onTuesday at an online press conference after a virtual meeting of EU defense ministers, repeated the EEAS line that the decision to go ahead with publication was taken by the EU delegation in Beijing, without consultations with the Brussels headquarters, but he pledged that the EU will not again give in to Chinese censorship.
“The ambassador had to take a decision to pass 99 percent of the European Union message, which at the end was not even possible because the Chinese version of the op-ed was not published,” said Borrell, referring to the head of the EU delegation in China, French diplomat Nicolas Chapuis. “And the decision taken, under great time pressure … was not the right one to take.”
Borrell said “the administrative hierarchy” of the EEAS had discussed the matter “to ensure that something like this will not happen again, and it was not the right decision to take.”
“In these occasions it would be better to go into consultations with the headquarters,” he said, adding that Chapuis “continues to have my confidence.”