At a news conference on Thursday, the EU refused to answer a reporter's question about whether member states were involved in the publication process, saying it did not comment on internal procedures.
But the EEAS correspondence in Beijing, seen by BuzzFeed News, shows that the 27 European governments have not been consulted about agreeing to censorship. "We regret that time pressure has prevented prior consultation with MS [member states] on this occasion, "wrote the agency.
The agency explained in the email that the change in the article came after the newspaper refused to consider publication without approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, known as "MFA".
"After extensive negotiations, the MFA made it clear that it would not agree to the publication of the article if the change was not made. The EU Delegation finally granted the amendment with considerable reluctance" and "on the understanding that the op would appear in the Chinese language. People's Daily – on May 6 ".
The EEAS added that it would report its disappointment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China that the Chinese version of the article did not appear.
The government of China has not yet provided an explanation as to why the Chinese version of the amended play was not published.
Several EU embassies in China, including from germany, published the full story, including the reference to “the coronavirus outbreak in China and its subsequent spread to the rest of the world in the past three months”.
This is the second incident in the last year of the EEAS that is not fully transparent to member states. BuzzFeed News reported last June, that the bloc's diplomatic mission in Moscow had been invaded, but the EEAS did not disclose the incident to EU governments, despite the belief that Russian entities were behind it.
In recent weeks, the EEAS has come under scrutiny for dealing with relations with China. Earlier this week, the EU's foreign policy arm answered it claims it watered down a report on China's global disinformation efforts and COVID-19, targeting younger employees and blaming leaks. The EEAS denies that the report was slowed down after Chinese pressure.