China-EU ties remain pragmatic in pandemic
Global Times


(Photo: VCG)

The cooperation between China and the EU members to fight COVID-19 throughout the pandemic is based on concrete mutual respect and friendship, rather than diplomatic pressures and power politics, Chinese observers said Monday following media reports alleging China pressures the EU to soften report on China's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.      

Despite some conservative forces and media in Europe still hold biased stance against China, the China-EU mutual assistance won't be affected as the EU understands that only China can provide supplies while their traditional ally the US could even hijack their materials, observers said.

Some Western media including Reuters, New York Times and German newspaper Welt am Sonntag recently reported that China had pressured the EU and its member states like Germany to praise China's efforts to fight the virus and remove the comments against China from an EU report which accused Beijing of running a "global disinformation" campaign. 

Song Luzheng, a Paris-based Chinese scholar and research fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University, told the Global Times on Monday that this kind of biased news against China is very normal in European media. Still, their impact on China-EU cooperation is very limited because the governments of the EU members understand that who can offer help when they desperately need medical materials and other supplies. 

The Chinese Embassy to Germany responded in a statement on Sunday, saying Welt am Sonntag's report, which stated the "German interior ministry said in a letter" that Chinese diplomats approached German politicians to make positive comments on China's handling of the pandemic is "untrue and irresponsible."

Any attempt to stigmatize China's efforts to control the outbreak and its cooperation with other countries will damage the atmosphere of cooperation and weaken our efforts to fight the virus, the Chinese embassy noted. 

Chinese analysts said China is not threatening anyone to cut off supplies if the country doesn't praise China, but China has the right to remind those media and politicians who are hostile and biased that their behavior could affect the cooperation, and patients in their nations could be harmed by their ignorance. 

When the public summary of the EU report went online on Friday, the section on "state-sponsored disinformation, which had singled out China and Russia," had been folded into the rest of the report, and the words have been softened, the New York Times reported. 

China's publicity capability is still weak compared to the powerful Western mainstream media and US propaganda, so no matter how hard China tries to tell the West how China managed to control the outbreak and warned the world of the serious situation through the World Health Organization in the early stage, as well as to provide stable and massive supplies, Western media and some anti-China political forces can still successfully stigmatize China, Song noted.

According to the Washington Post on Saturday, a new US Republican strategy memo advises Senate candidates to blame China for the coronavirus outbreak, link Democrats to the Chinese government and avoid discussing President Trump's handling of the crisis.

"This is clear evidence of who is using a global disinformation campaign," Song said, but he stressed that China is capable of balancing stigmatization because China has the power to solve problems and offer concrete help.

"The EU can't get anything from the US, not even one single mask or ventilator," Song said.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday that China's assistance and support to the world is what no one can deny, and China is the only logistical center in the global fight against the pandemic.

EU members have had a very close cooperation with China throughout the pandemic. Italy and Spain are two countries which had a very serious situation, and while they received no help from their Western allies, China has become their only hope, which sent huge amount of medical supplies and a medical team.

Other EU members like France, Germany and Hungary all received supplies from China and non-EU European countries like Serbia also received China's support as China is the most experienced country to handle the pandemic and can also produce enough supplies in time.

The latest study conducted by the Piepoli Institute that monitors public sentiment every week on the evolution of the COVID-19 phenomenon shows the country that Italians see as helping them the most is China (52 percent), followed by Albania (18 percent) and Russia (9 percent). Only 3 percent said it's the US, ANSA news agency reported on April 7.

But while China shows its sincerity based on humanitarianism, some said China is trying to use its industrial power and supply chain to shape its positive image in the West.

"China-EU cooperation can ignore these interruptions and ridiculous opinions because they don't understand why China is doing this for the EU and the rest of the world. At the beginning of the outbreak in China, which was the most difficult period for our country, European countries and neighbors like Japan, Russia, Pakistan and South Korea, as well as Iran, provided help to us, and what we are doing right now is returning the favor," Li said.