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Global Times

Chinese attendee refutes Western scholars' déjà vu rumors against China over reaction to Zelensky's speech at Shangri-La Dialogue

Global Times

By Global Times Published: Jun 12, 2022 07:30 PM

The Chinese delegation attending the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore has become the target of rumors again, when two Western research fellows tweeted on Saturday that the Chinese delegation walked out of the meeting room when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky started his speech via video link.

The allegation was soon clarified by a former US defense official who pointed out that it was the Vietnamese delegation who left the room and also dismissed as a rumor by a Chinese attendee in the same meeting on Saturday.

Zhang Yingli, former professor at the International College of Defense Studies at the China People's Liberation Army (PLA) National Defense University who was at the meeting, told the Global Times on Sunday that the allegation was totally fake news and purely a rumor blatantly made up by relevant personnel.

Zhang attended the afternoon session on Saturday with four other Chinese representatives and they all stayed at the meeting venue throughout Zelensky's speech via video link to the Q&A session.

"Obviously, this was fake news. Those who fabricated it harbored ulterior intentions and wanted to use the Ukraine situation to smear China and distort its international image," said Zhang.

On Saturday, Olivia Enos, a senior policy analyst of Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, and Jonathan Eyal, associate director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, posted on Twitter that the Chinese delegation left the meeting hall during the Shangri-La dialogue when Zelensky delivered his speech, questioning China's stance on the Ukraine situation. Several other accounts also tweeted similar contents.

However, US former Department of Defense official Drew Thompson later replied to Olivia Enos that was the Vietnamese delegation who left and that he was sitting next to a senior colonel from the PLA delegation.

Thompson added that since the Shangri-La dialogue summit had a very tight schedule, the Vietnamese delegation was probably simply heading to another meeting at 4:30 pm and the US Coast Guard Commandant also left early for other meetings.

Both Olivia Enos and Jonathan Eyal haven't admitted their mistake nor apologized for it. Despite the deletion of the tweet, Olivia Enos commented below Thompson's clarification: "Glad I wasn't the only one" referring to the fact of mistaking the Vietnamese delegation for the Chinese one. Jonathan Eyal hasn't even deleted the fake news as of press time.

This isn't the first time the Chinese delegation has become the target of rumors made up by some Western parties.

In late May, CNN interviewed Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, who took a photograph showing the Chinese delegation seated while other people were giving a standing ovation, and that the members then left the room. He told CNN that the photo was sending a clear message they do not support Ukraine. But the delegation turned out to be the Vietnamese one, while the Chinese delegation was meeting with International Energy Agency chief Fatih Birol at that time.

Both the Chinese delegation to Davos and the Chinese Foreign Ministry refuted such claim. CNN later admitted in an email sent to the Global Times that it made a mistake in misreporting Chinese delegation's reaction to Zelensky's speech.

"We regret the error appeared on our air... we reached out to McCaul's office for a statement," CNN said in the email.

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