China Censors EU Council Chief's Speech Criticizing Ukraine Invasion
Chinese authorities have scrapped a trade fair speech by the European Council president, Charles Michel, that was critical of Russia’s war in Ukraine, diplomats told Jennifer Rankin of The Guardian.
Photo Insert: Michel’s speech was to have urged China’s leaders to use their influence to stop Russia’s “brutal” war in Ukraine.
The recorded message by Michel was meant to be one of several from world leaders and heads of international bodies played at the opening on Friday last week of China’s International Import Expo in Shanghai.
Three European diplomats said Michel’s speech, which was heavily critical of Russia’s “illegal” war in Ukraine, had been removed, according to Reuters, which first reported the incident.
“President Michel was invited to address the Fifth Hongqiao Forum/CIIE in Shanghai,” said Michel’s spokesperson, Barend Leyts. “As requested by the Chinese authorities, we had indeed provided a prerecorded message, which was ultimately not shown.”
Leyts told the Guardian that the European Council had received no further feedback from Chinese authorities. “We leave it up to them to explain what happened,” he said.
No one from China’s foreign ministry or the co-organizers of the expo, China’s commerce ministry and the Shanghai city government, responded to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Michel’s speech was to have urged China’s leaders to use their influence to stop Russia’s “brutal” war in Ukraine. Michel and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered a similar message to Chinese leaders at an EU-China summit in April that appears to have had little impact on Beijing’s actions.
The EU’s relationship with one of its largest trading partners has grown increasingly tense, amid increasing concern about human rights in China, and Beijing’s role in the world. In March 2019, the EU labeled China a “systemic rival” as well as an economic competitor and a negotiating partner.