Coronavirus News Asia

China blocks US medical equipment to fight Covid-19

China’s face-mask diplomacy appears to be falling apart after American companies were blocked from shipping crucial medical equipment out of the country to the United States.

In a move that is bound to infuriate President Donald Trump’s administration, “large quantities of critical protective gear and other health-care goods are sitting in warehouses across China” because of a clearance hold-up by officials, according to an exclusive Wall Street Journal report.

The medical supplies are desperately needed by the US as it battles the Covid-19 pandemic with infections soaring to more than 644,000 and the death toll edging towards 29,000, the most worldwide.

“Health-care equipment maker PerkinElmer, based in Massachusetts, is unable to ship 1.4 million test kits from its Suzhou factory because it lacks a certification required by the new rules,” a State Department memo cited by the Journal said.

“A Shanghai vice-mayor told Minnesota-based conglomerate 3M that the city ‘relies on 3M’s locally produced N-95 respirators for its Covid-19 prevention efforts and lacks viable alternatives.’ The official [also] ‘signaled that lifting restrictions on distribution of the company’s masks would require instructions from Beijing,’” the Journal added, according to American business memos and US diplomatic documents.

The fact that President Xi Jinping’s government appears to be sitting on the shipments will add to the already toxic air hanging over Beijing and Washington.

Earlier this week, Trump announced he would suspend funding to the World Health Organization after accusing it of being complicit in a Chinese coverup when the outbreak surfaced in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, in December.


The US donated US$893 million to the WHO between 2018 and 2019, or 14.67% of its total funding, compared to China’s $86 million, or just 0.21%, the organization’s website shows.

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