French President Emmanuel Macron rejected notions that China has handled the outbreak of the coronavirus better than Europe and the United States.
Macron sat down for an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday. The French president called such ideas “naïve,” and said that China’s authoritarian regime has suppressed too much information for anyone to accurately assess Beijing’s response to the pandemic.
Macron blistered at the idea that anyone would attempt to draw a comparison between freely elected governments in the West where much information is available against the notoriously secretive Chinese Communist Party that runs China’s regime.
“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,” Macron said. “We don’t know. There are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about.”
Secrecy and deception have been hallmarks of China’s coronavirus response since the outbreak was first discovered late last year. In the early weeks of the crisis, the regime silenced whistleblowers and, allegedly with the help of the World Health Organization, tamped down concerns about the virus.
As skepticism of China’s reported cases grew within the U.S. intelligence community, the WHO continued to report Chinese numbers as fact. The United Nations, which oversees the WHO, ran an article on March 16 titled, “China shows COVID-19 Coronavirus can be ‘stopped in its tracks.’” The U.N. article featured WHO’s representative to China, Dr. Gauden Galea, praising the Chinese government for setting an example “other countries can learn from.”
By the time the U.N. article was published, U.S. intelligence officials had been warning the White House for over a month that Beijing was allegedly misreporting its coronavirus cases.
On March 17, the Chinese regime demanded that journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal return their press passes, effectively banning U.S. media from the country.
Two days later, the CCP reported on March 19 that the country had reached a milestone in its fight against the coronavirus: no new cases of the disease. Some media outlets and the WHO reported China’s claim at face-value, sparking comparisons between China’s progress against the virus against Western countries such as the United States and Italy.
“If Thursday’s numbers are more than a statistical blip, it would represent a remarkable turnaround for the Chinese government, which drew widespread public outrage when officials initially concealed and mismanaged the outbreak, even punishing the doctors who sought to raise the alarm,” The New York Times reported at the time.
President Trump initially praised China and the WHO for their handling of the pandemic. More recently, the president has taken a more critical posture, openly questioning China’s reporting and freezing U.S. funds to the WHO while U.S. officials investigate the WHO’s role in China’s alleged deception.
Critics of Trump have said that his decision to question China and defund the WHO are an effort to distract from his own response to the coronavirus. CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta said that Trump was scapegoating the Chinese government and the WHO.