Earlier this month, Europe's ambassador in Beijing submitted to Chinese censorship.

Seeking to mark an anniversary of the European Union's relations with China on May 6, he and the EU's 27 ambassadors co-wrote an opinion piece titled "EU-China ties vital amid global crisis," for publication on embassy websites and in the China Daily, an English-language newspaper controlled by the state.

"The outbreak of the coronavirus in China, and its subsequent spread to the rest of the world over the past three months," said the carefully orchestrated piece, had "temporarily side-tracked" plans for meetings.