Rights Group Calls Out Chinese Diplomat’s Comments on French Media Coverage of Pandemic

March 22, 2020 Updated: March 22, 2020
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As France deals with an escalating outbreak in Europe caused by the CCP virus, a local Chinese diplomat lashed out at French local media for their coverage of the pandemic.

Such criticism by the Chinese Ambassador in France, Lu Shaye, was entirely inappropriate, said nonprofit Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement published on March 20.

“This ‘lesson in journalism’ for the French press is inappropriate coming from a representative of the People’s Republic of China, a country that is ranked 177 out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and is one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists,” said Christophe Deloire, RSF’s secretary-general.

The group also said Lu’s statements were part of the Chinese regime’s greater strategy to control international media coverage about China.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Diplomat’s Comments

RSF pointed out that Lu had on three occasions criticized French media.

Most recently on March 15, Lu spoke to a local cable TV channel, accusing French media of using “propaganda” methods to “brainwash” Western public opinion.

In the same TV interview, Lu accused one large French daily newspaper of slander for reporting about how Chinese authorities downplayed the threat of the virus between December and February.

Liu’s verbal barrage against French media began in February, when he twice issued a statement on the local Chinese embassy’s website.

On Feb. 14, Liu condemned French media for “irresponsible” comments and “absurdities,” and their criticism “bordering on paranoia.” Then on Feb. 29, he said certain French media “had denied facts and made fun of China.”

Deloire responded by calling out China’s lack of press freedom.

“Beijing’s censorship of the Chinese media had a very negative impact by delaying the regime’s response at the outset of the coronavirus epidemic,” he said in the statement.

The virus first emerged in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, in December 2019. The initial outbreak was covered up by the Chinese regime; authorities silenced eight doctors who disclosed an “unknown pneumonia” outbreak on Chinese social media.

One of them, an ophthalmologist named Li Wenliang, was summoned to a local police station and reprimanded for “rumor-mongering,” and forced to sign a “confession statement.”

The CCP virus has since spread to more than 150 countries. France has at least 16,018 confirmed cases of the virus and 674 deaths.

Several U.S. officials have called out the Chinese regime for concealing information about the outbreak in China, including Secretary of the State Mike Pompeo.

More recently, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael George DeSombre wrote that “the Chinese people know their government is to blame for this pandemic,” by pointing to Li’s treatment as an example.

In an op-ed published in the Thai English-language daily The Nation on March 21, DeSombre wrote that if Chinese authorities had “done the right thing and sounded the alarm … China—and indeed the rest of the world, including Thailand—might have been spared the impact on our populations.”

Lu’s Background

Lu’s contempt for press freedom dates back to his previous position as China’s ambassador to Canada, RSF said.

In 2017, Lu lambasted Canadian media for reporting on China’s human rights abuses and urged the Canadian government to “spend less time bowing down to Canadian journalists preoccupied with human rights” while the two countries were negotiating a trade deal.

“A diplomat should not try to intimidate the media in the country in which he is posted, much less give them instructions,” said Cedric Alviani, head of RSF’s East Asia bureau, in a 2019 statement after Lu was named the new ambassador to France.

“The very fact that Lu Shaye is still an ambassador despite his brash words is indicative of the aggressive and uninhibited attitude with which Beijing tries to impose its propaganda outside its borders.”

Lu was China’s ambassador to Canada from February 2017 to June 2019 before taking up his post in France in July 2019. He was vice mayor of Wuhan from July 2014 to July 2015.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer