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The European Commission claims to have "sufficient evidence" for the existence of Chinese propaganda in Europe regarding the outbreak of covid-19, a "new phenomenon" that joins Russian disinformation and the spread of false information by "European actors".
"We have enough evidence to understand how Chinese advertising works and how it has worked in this covid-19 crisis and, due to this evidence, I think it is time to tell the truth, to inform people," said the vice president of the European Commission with the portfolio of Values and Transparency, Vera Jourová.
Speaking to a group of journalists in Brussels, including the Lusa agency, regarding the communication adopted today by the college of commissioners on disinformation in the context of the covid-19 pandemic, the official added that this evidence “was collected by the European External Action Service. ”.
“We learned of a series of accusations, such as that the new coronavirus was developed in US laboratories and about an exaggerated promotion of China's support for the EU, with a lot of propaganda that indicates that European Member States and democratic institutions are not were able to deal with the crisis, ”said Vera Jourová.
According to the vice president of the community executive, "there are a series of mass situations of this kind and this is a new phenomenon, with more assertive communication in European territory and addressed to European citizens" by Beijing.
In addition to China, Russia has also been identified as a “promoter or source of disinformation”, in what is “the first time” that the European Union (EU) has so clearly pointed out these origins of ‘fake news’.
“Of course, when it comes to Russia it is nothing new because they have the disinformation included in military doctrine, but China is pointed out for the first time and I am pleased that we did it because if there is evidence, we should not be afraid to point it out ”, Added Vera Jourová.
To answer these questions, the official defended a strengthening of “internal cooperation and also at the level of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the G7 (group of world powers) because disinformation is a hybrid threat and, therefore, a security issue ”.
“We have to clean our own house and we have to reinforce our communication strategy and diplomatic connections”, underlined Vera Jourová, in an allusion to the “different actors” who, within Europe, “act as external enemies”.
"I am talking about different extremist groups, political forces with nationalist programs, different groups that also aim at inciting disruption and violence in the EU," he specified.
Vera Jourová also gave an example of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, "in which people were not informed about the situation and its consequences", rejecting these cases in Europe during a pandemic.
Already admitting that, at times, “it is difficult to detect the origin” of these cases of disinformation at Community level, the vice-president of the European Commission defended greater transparency on the part of digital platforms and support for the independent press and researchers.
“The covid-19 pandemic showed a huge wave of misinformation and showed us that false information can create serious consequences, kill citizens and weaken confidence in institutions and, consequently, the measures taken,” said Vera Jourová.
The European External Action Service was recently involved in a controversy for allegedly yielding to pressure from China in a report on disinformation, with the American newspaper New York Times advancing in late April that the language of the document was softened by Beijing's influence. , which Brussels rejected.