‘Things happened that we don’t know about’: Emmanuel Macron becomes latest world leader to question China over coronavirus


Emmanuel Macron has questioned China‘s version of how it handled the coronavirus outbreak, saying things “happened that we don’t know about”. In a scathing slap down of suggestions the one-party state was able to contain the pandemic better than western democracies, the French president indicated it would be “naive” to believe official accounts provided by the country. His comments came as China revised upwards the number of people killed by the virus there by almost 50 per cent.

”Given … what China is today, which I respect, let’s not be so naive as to say it’s been much better at handling this,” Mr Macron told the Financial Times newspaper. “We don’t know. There are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about.” And he added any suggestion that western democracies should question long-held principles of freedom were misguided. “We can’t accept that,” he said. “You can’t abandon your fundamental DNA on the grounds that there is a health crisis.”

Same Report from BBC:

President Macron’s interview came after a weekend of tension which saw the summoning of the Chinese ambassador to Paris by the French foreign ministry to express disapproval over an article on the Chinese embassy’s website that said Western countries had left the elderly to die in care homes. The article – by an unnamed diplomat – was seen by France as a reference to the situation in its care homes, which make up a large number of deaths attributed to the disease caused by coronavirus, Covid-19.

China dismissed the row as a “misunderstanding”. Government spokesman Zhao Lijian said China had never made any negative comments about how France was coping with the epidemic “and has no intention of making any”.Mr Macron was asked if China’s authoritarian response to bring the outbreak under control had exposed the weakness of Western democracies, and responded that there was no comparison between open societies and those where truth was suppressed.

“Given these differences, the choices made and what China is today, which I respect, let’s not be so naive as to say it’s been much better at handling this,” he said. “We don’t know. There are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about.” He said that abandoning freedoms to fight the pandemic would threaten Western democracies. “We can’t accept that. You can’t abandon your fundamental DNA on the grounds that there is a health crisis.”

Original Financial Time Segment:

Mr Macron bristled when asked if erratic efforts to curb the Covid-19 pandemic had not exposed the weaknesses of western democracies and highlighted the advantages of authoritarian governments such as China.

There is no comparison, he says, between countries where information flows freely and citizens can criticise their governments and those where the truth was suppressed. “Given these differences, the choices made and what China is today, which I respect, let’s not be so naive as to say it’s been much better at handling this,” he says. “We don’t know. There are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about.”

The French president insists that abandoning freedoms to tackle the disease would pose a threat to western democracies. “Some countries are making that choice in Europe,” he says in an apparent allusion to Hungary and Viktor Orban’s decision to rule by decree. “We can’t accept that. You can’t abandon your fundamental DNA on the grounds that there is a health crisis.”

Edit: someone accused my headline being misleading. I’ve posted three different versions of the content supporting the article headline, see it for yourself



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