İrem UZUN -TDO- The EU on Tuesday formally accused China and Russia of mounting targeted coronavirus disinformation campaigns to undermine European democracy, in documents seen by AFP. In a paper on what it called the 'flood' of misleading and inaccurate information proliferating around the pandemic, Brussels says Beijing and Moscow had set out to polarize debate and burnish their own images. The European Commission said Russia and China were running “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighborhood, and globally”. While the charge against Russia has been levelled on many occasions, this is the first time the EU executive has publicly named China as a source of disinformation.
“I believe if we have evidence we should not shy away from naming and shaming,” Vĕra Jourová, a European commission vice-president, told reporters. “What we also witnessed is a surge in narratives undermining our democracies and in effect our response to the crisis, for example the claim there are secret U.S. biological laboratories on former Soviet republics has been spread by both pro-Kremlin outlets, as well as Chinese officials and state media.” “I strongly believe that a geopolitically strong EU can only materialize if we are assertive,” Jourová said, alluding to the aim of the European commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, for the body to have more clout on the world stage.
The Commission called on social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google to do more to counter disinformation on their platforms and to remove misleading and dangerous content. They also called on the companies to be more transparent and compile monthly reports with detailed information on steps taken to limit coronavirus disinformation. "The pandemic showed that disinformation does not only harm the health of our democracies, it also harms the health of our citizens," said Commission Vice President Vera Jourova.