On June 23, Zhang Heqing, the cultural counselor of the Chinese embassy in Pakistan, spread fake news. He made comments on a video of tens of thousands of people protesting the cost-of-living crisis in Brussels on June 20, claiming it was a protest against NATO.
Zhang Heqing retweeted a demonstration video from the “Fifty Shades of Whey” Twitter account, writing in English, “Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Brussels chanting ‘Stop NATO’ on June 10, expressing anger at the rising living costs & condemning NATO countries’ rush to arm Ukraine.”
“Fifty Shades of Whey” said clearly in his Twitter post that 70,000 Belgian workers had protested rising prices in Brussels and included the full Reuters report.
The Global Times, a state-owned Chinese regime outlet, quickly picked up Zhang Heqing’s misleading caption and retweeted a similar post.
Europe slammed the Global Times for spreading rumors.
The ministry wrote, “This is what we call #disinformation,” adding that “The demonstration in Brussels on Monday, June 20, asked for more purchasing power and was in NO WAY directed against @NATO or our support to Ukraine in the war waged against this country by Russia.”
In fact, on June 20, 70,000 workers in Belgium took to the streets of Brussels to protest. They marched, sang, and yelled slogans calling for an increase in wages and lower taxes. The strike, which shut down the airport and public transportation in Brussels, is now being talked about worldwide.
NATO was not mentioned at all during the march in Brussels. Instead, protesters gathered to express their displeasure with growing inflation and demand higher salaries. Activists also called for a change to Belgium’s 1996 wage standards law, which controls salary increases.
According to Associated Press journalists who documented the protest said that it was more about protesting against the growing cost of living than any call anti-NATO.
Radio Free Asia reported that Zhang Heqing’s mislead tweet got caught by Theresa Fallon, Director of the Centre for Russia, Europe, Asia Studies (CREAS).
Fallon told Radio Free Asia that the march had nothing to do with NATO, and “Beijing is using this form of political warfare or disinformation in the run-up to the NATO summit which takes place next week”
She was shocked and speechless by a Chinese diplomat’s tweet that was utterly inconsistent with the facts.