Steve Tsang, director of SOAS University of London’s China Institute, says Beijing’s official statements are mostly directed at domestic audiences, with the goal of projecting a positive image of China’s relations with the world. “If you accept that, then what they are doing with the EU meeting makes perfectly good sense,” Tsang says.

Martin Sebena, a doctoral researcher studying EU-China relations at the University of Hong Kong, and who used to work at the Slovakian embassy in Beijing, pays close attention to China’s diplomatic readouts of its meetings with foreign countries. No side ever presents a neutral account of a meeting, he said, but there are two major factors at play for Beijing: many more topics are deemed off-limits on the Chinese side, such that they have to be “reformulated or presented differently;” and China also has “more space to tweak the message because they’re not held accountable by their population.”

“If a democratic country said something outrageous in a press release that is clearly untrue they would be called out,” Sebena said. “But China doesn’t have these concerns.”

“China is of course welcome to issue its own press releases stating its own positions and interpretation of the outcome,” EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Virginie Battu-Henriksson told Quartz. She pointed out that the Chinese statement referenced specific commitments made during the summit. “As was said by the two EU Presidents yesterday, now is the time to accelerate and to deliver on the commitments made.”

China’s ministry of foreign affairs did not respond to a request for comment.

This isn’t the first time there’s been controversy like this. China released a statement on May 27 about its foreign minister Wang Yi’s phone call with French foreign policy advisor Emmanuel Bonne, in which Bonne supposedly “reaffirmed” that France “has no intention of interfering in Hong Kong affairs.” But France pushed back on this characterization two days later, stating that it “fully concur[s]” with the EU’s expression of “grave concern” over Beijing’s moves to exert control over Hong Kong. While not an outright denial of China’s statement, it seems unlikely that Bonne would have pledged not to interfere in Hong Kong matters.

Earlier this month, the EU also called out China for its “selective” and “unacceptable” reporting of a meeting between Wang and Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat. The Chinese statement (link in Chinese) quoted Borrell as saying that the EU “seeks to have dialogue and cooperation with China on the basis of mutual respect, not rivalry or confrontation”—very different from Borrell’s portrayal of China as a “systemic rival,” as laid out in the EU’s statement.

Still, it’s not clear that Beijing’s latest statement will cause another controversy in Europe, especially since, as SOAS’ Tsang argues, “what the Chinese are guilty of is much more a matter of omissions than contradiction.” But with negotiations for a joint investment agreement already under way and a deal seeming more and more out of reach, what’s omitted from statements—from human rights to political values—could be just as informative as what’s included.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.