While China imported standard masks to protect its people from coronavirus, it exported its substandard masks to the world according to a New York Times report. While imposing a lockdown on the Hubei province in general and the Wuhan city in particular, the Beijing-based communist rulers bought masks and protective equipment from other countries. Data from the Chinese government’s customs department show that it imported about 2 billion masks in five weeks at the time of anti-coronavirus lockdown.
This was equivalent to two to two-and-a-half months of total mask production worldwide. In addition, China imported 40 million protective equipment.
China granted exemptions, relaxed industry rules in manufacturing
China also granted a number of exemptions to the manufacturers of masks and other protective equipment domestically while it went on importing — according to the NYT report. This way, China fought coronavirus more effectively to a large extent by adopting rescue measures.
When the virus spread from China to other countries of the world, its communist regime turned into an exporter of masks and other essential medical goods. In most countries of the world, the prices of masks had by then increased significantly due to the global coronavirus pandemic (in free-er markets of the world, costs of products are not bound by a state-determined maximum retail price). The wholesale price of N-95 — a special kind of mask that protects medical workers — and protective equipment increased five times. Also, the Trans-Pacific Airfreight Charge trebled.
If taking the advantage from surge pricing was nothing ethical, China also made masks of substandard quality. The European Union on Tuesday complained about the poor quality Chinese masks and test kits. After this, China’s Ministry of Commerce assured that they would henceforth make masks only to the standard.
China has been supplying its inferior makes to the US and European countries.
The White House has announced that in the next one week they will airlift the personal protection equipment using 22 cargo plane sorties. The US said that in the next 72 hours, the better masks would be supplied to hospitals struggling with lack of enough protection equipment.
France, saddled with a large stock of masks imported from China, may return the consignment.
Arm-twisting, selling, brazening it out even after it stands exposed
The Chinese government is promoting a global deal on the sale and purchase of masks. But this will now prove a daunting task. International trade depends and relies on globally laid down manufacturing regulations and customs laws while China are now accused widely of fraud.
China is struggling to come clean, saying that it sells masks and medical kits directly to hospitals and others who need equipment, not “speculators”, referring to journalists who have exposed the unethical act of Beijing.
Meanwhile, some factories in China continue to make masks of poor quality. Last week, creating a news story for global consumption, a man was sent to prison for 10 years for selling a bad mask.
Some Chinese companies are selling masks directly to foreign customers. And this is happening under the political command more than capitalist greed. Factories are telling Beijing and local officers that they must be first allowed to cater to the domestic market. Despite this, on Monday, China sent dozens of cartons full of face masks to Bussy-Lettrée in France.
Henan Doria Mechanical Equipment Company says it is ready to sell masks in the global market in large numbers. They have received orders of 15 lakh N95 masks — to be sent within the next 15 days. The consignment is stuck because of a halt on air traffic. Now China says if the US wants personal protection equipment on a large scale, it will have to provide American cargo aircraft for the purpose.
According to China, it has only 173 cargo aircraft while the US has more than 550 aircraft of the type. Beijing says the manufacture of its cargo aircraft is at an early stage in China. Michele Crotty, president of Golden Pacific Fashion & Design, Shanghai, says that the companies making N95 masks have placed a total of 50% downpayment at the time of ordering the mask. The remaining amount must be paid before the mask leaves the factory gate.