It follows a row sparked by an article on the Chinese embassy's website that said Western countries had left the elderly to die in care homes. The foreign ministry summoned China's ambassador to "express disapproval". 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". France has seen 141,000 cases of Covid-19 and nearly 18,000 deaths. China has recorded 4,632 deaths - including an extra 1,290 deaths announced on Friday in the city of Wuhan, where the pandemic started and where a strict lockdown has only recently been lifted.
Local officials said early reporting there had been delayed and inaccurate. Countries including the US, the UK and France have questioned China's transparency over the outbreak.