No cold war with China: EU

Josep Borrell

Josep Borrell  

Moscow, Beijing accused of undermining Europe’s democracy

The EU’s chief diplomat said on Wednesday he had assured China’s Foreign Minister the bloc does not want a “cold war”, as it accused Beijing of waging a coronavirus disinformation campaign.

Brussels said China and Russia have sought to undermine European democracy and burnish their own reputations during the pandemic with “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns”.

The unusually blunt accusation came in an official EU strategy paper for tackling what officials say is a “flood” of false healthcare claims, conspiracy theories, fraud and hate speech surrounding the pandemic.

The report was published on Wednesday, a day after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell held video talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Mr. Borrell on Wednesday insisted the EU was “not starting anything” with China, and said he had reassured Mr. Wang during their talks. “I told him: ‘Don’t worry, Europe is not going to embark on any kind of Cold War with China’,” Mr. Borrell said.

The report accuses Moscow and Beijing of “seeking to undermine democratic debate and exacerbate social polarisation, and improve their own image in the COVID-19 context”.

Tensions rose ahead of a video summit later this month between EU and Chinese leaders. EU-Chinese relations have hit a rocky patch as Brussels struggles to calibrate its response to Beijing’s growing assertiveness under President Xi Jinping.

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