China denied Tuesday criticizing France’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying there had been “misunderstandings” after French officials summoned the Chinese ambassador to Paris.
“China has never made any negative comments about how France has handled the epidemic,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a regular press briefing.
“On the contrary, we share the concerns of France, which is today facing the serious challenges posed by this epidemic.”
The Chinese embassy in France has been carrying out a major public relations campaign in recent weeks to praise the country’s success in largely suffocating the coronavirus while criticizing the handling of the crisis by Western countries.
On Sunday, the Chinese Embassy published a long text on its website entitled “Restoring distorted facts – Observations of a Chinese diplomat posted in Paris”.
The diplomat, who is not named in the text, strongly criticized the Western response to the epidemic of coronavirus.
But above all, the diplomat accused workers of retirement homes “to abandon their jobs overnight … and to let their residents die of hunger and disease”.
This comment sparked fury across the political spectrum in France, with people jumping in defense of workers in nursing homes.
The French version of the text used the acronym of French nursing homes, but the Chinese version used a general term for establishments, and the Embassy later declared that it referred to deaths in Spain.
Zhao said Chinese embassies have responded to “false information” and “unfounded criticism” of Sino-French cooperation from some Western media, experts and politicians.
“This is about clarifying certain facts, explaining our position of principle and preserving the current international cooperation against the epidemic,” said Zhao.
“We hope that the French side will dispel these misunderstandings”.