'A goodwill gesture?': Countries hard-hit by COVID-19 return defective protective gear sent by China

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Mar 29, 2020, 02.25 PM(IST) Edited By: Bharat Sharma

Testing kits Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

A resurgent China is exporting medical equipment, testing kits, and face masks around the world as a goodwill gesture

As the world grapples with the coronavirus crisis, four countries - Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, are all returning made in China testing kits.

Adding up to the list, today, the Netherlands recalled defective masks bought from China.

A resurgent China is exporting medical equipment, testing kits, and face masks around the world as a goodwill gesture.

But, these Chinese kits were found to be substandard and faulty.

Recalls in progress

The Dutch government has ordered a recall of around 600,000 masks out of a shipment of 1.3 million from China after they failed to meet quality standards.

The tests show that the masks failed to protect the face or had defective filters.

Even worse, the defective masks had already been distributed to several hospitals currently battling the COVID-19 outbreak.

Also read: How did New York City become the American coronavirus epicentre?

Spain, the second-worst affected country in the world with more than 65,000 cases and 5,600 deaths, acted in desperation.

"All the countries are fighting to secure domestic production, fighting to get supplies from China", said Maria Jesus Montero, representative of the Spanish government.

Just two days ago, a Spanish government spokesperson Maria Montero said that the country fought a “war” while procuring medical supplies in an overheated Chinese market.

But, the testing kits purchased from a Chinese firm were faulty.

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In Spain, the rate of detection failure among testing kits was 70 per cent, while in Czech Republic, it was 80 per cent.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, these kits could detect only 30 per cent of the cases.

Just a day earlier, Spanish government had passed a 475 million dollar order for emergency medical equipment from China.

The deal is now uncertain, for many countries have complained of mediocre testing kits and material.

Faulty kits and protective gear during this outbreak can be disastrous.

A helping hand?

As of now, China has exported 100,000 kits to the Philippines, over 10,000 each to African countries and Poland.

"This is a tremendous help of China. It is a model for what the rest of the world should be doing. Instead of blaming each other for what's happening, they should all start working together to help each other. And this is concrete proof", the Philippine Foreign Secretary, Teodoro Locsin was quoted saying recently.

Additionally, China has also sent medical teams to several countries, including Serbia. To help out Italy, China has sent not one but three teams so far.

In total, China has extended “help” to over 89 countries and four international organisations.

The state media too, is hard at work to kill negative publicity, saying there is no place for a “smearing game” over products made in China.

But, China is moving towards normalcy while the rest of the world is under a lockdown. Business has resumed in many parts of the country.

Outside Hubei - the original epicentre of the outbreak, 90 per cent of large firms are back at work. But, not without government help. Like most countries, China too has announced a relief package to revive the economy.

Also read: US permits companies to pollute freely amid COVID-19 pandemic

"We have communicated the figure of a totality of 344 billion US Dollars in terms of mainly fiscal measures", the administration announced.

"First and foremost we try to stabilise the Chinese economy and with the measures we have started to take, with the return to work of the workers and the resumption of productive activities by the factories across the country i think the Chinese economy is coming back to life", said Wang Xiaolong, the Director-General of International Economic Affairs of China’s Foreign Ministry.

So, while major countries are still struggling, China has a head start.

China can bounce back quickly by boosting business.

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Chinese firms up the ante

Personal protection equipment like masks and face gear. According to a report, almost nine thousand new manufacturers started producing masks in china this year.

China's daily mask production has crossed 115 million.

BYD, a company that normally makes electric cars, says it could make five million masks per day.

Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that makes iPhones, says it can make two million masks per day.

Also read: How the United States wasted a critical window of opportunity to isolate COVID-19

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has thanked Huawei for donations.

This is the same Chinese company that the US Government has blacklisted due to security reasons.

Back in business

Foreign companies based in China have reopened with nearly 80 percent of the workforce back at work.

BMW's factories had resumed operations in February itself. Fiat Chrysler has also restarted production. Foxconn has resumed work in its Mainland China factories.

Tesla's factory has reopened too, with help from local authorities.