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CNN apologizes to China — Analysis

A guest on the network falsely claimed that Chinese diplomats sat down during a standing ovation for Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky

CNN apologized on Thursday to China’s Global Times newspaper for a broadcast on Wednesday in which US Representative Michael McCaul accused a Chinese delegation of remaining seated during a standing ovation for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a World Economic Forum meeting. Chinese media reported that the Vietnamese were among those seated.

McCaul (a Texas Republican) told CNN Wednesday that he was sitting in front of an a “Chinese delegation” during Zelensky’s speech at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday. McCaul explained that, while the leaders of Ukraine stood to applaud the president, these members of the delegation were silent and then walked out.

CNN showed video of diplomats sitting in their chairs. McCaul stated that CNN was showing the footage. “sent a clear message they do not support Ukraine.”

Beijing denied that diplomats from Beijing were present in the room. Wang Wenbin (foreign ministry spokesperson) called McCaul to clarify his claim. CNN addressed the mistake first.

“We regret the error that appeared on our air … we reached out to McCaul’s office for a statement,”The Global Times was informed by the network via email Thursday.

The Global Times published a detailed article Wednesday on this mixup. According to other Chinese media, McCaul’s picture was allegedly taken by McCaul. The paper also noted that McCaul had been photographed with a man who appeared to be Vietnam’s deputy prime minister. Vietnamese media had reported that Le Minh Khai would be attending Davos Monday and Tuesday as the deputy PM. 

McCaul, who sits on the Republican Party’s ‘China Task Force’, has not yet addressed the incident.

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