French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday questioned China’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak, saying it was naive to suggest that it had dealt better with the crisis.    

Speaking to the London-based Financial Times newspaper, Macron said there is no comparison between countries where information flows freely and people can criticize their government and those where the truth is 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. 

Macron also warned that if European Union countries do not launch a rescue fund that can issue joint debt to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, populists in countries like Italy, Spain and perhaps France would take power.

He added that the richer EU members need to do more to pay for economic rebuilding if the bloc is to survive. 

Touching on the EU’s future, Macron said "we are at a moment of truth, which is to decide whether the European Union is a political project or just a market project. I think it’s a political project …We need financial transfers and solidarity, if only so that Europe holds on."

Since the beginning of the outbreak in France in March, more than 32,800 people have made a full recovery.

Meanwhile, Macron has extended the lockdown in the country until May 11.

Plans are in place for schools, daycare centers and businesses to reopen followed by cafes, bars and restaurants.

Globally, more than 2.1 million people have been infected by the virus with 144,221 deaths and over 543,000 recoveries, according to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.