French President Emmanuel Macron has questioned China's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that things "happened that we don't know about", a media report said on Friday (17 April).
Asked if China's authoritarian response to bring the outbreak under control had exposed the weakness of Western democracies, the BBC quoted Macron as saying to The Financial Times newspaper 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 the 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."
So far, France has reported 147,091 coronavirus cases and 17,941 deaths.
Macron's comments come after countries like the US and the UK have questioned China's transparency over the pandemic, that originated in the city of Wuhan last December, said the BBC report.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told a news conference on Thursday that "hard questions" would have been asked about how the outbreak started “and how it couldn't have been stopped earlier".
He said there would have to be a "deep dive" into how the virus was able to spread from China and said it could not be "business as usual" after the crisis.
US President Donald Trump has also taken a hard line against China.
On Wednesday, asked why the US accounted for such a high proportion of the global death toll, he accused other countries of lying about their mortality rates
"Does anybody really believe the numbers of some of these countries?" he asked, naming China.
He said the US was looking into unverified reports that the coronavirus may have emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan rather than in a market in the city.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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