As the Covid-19 pandemic continues in earnest, governments resort to playground tactics, blaming others while trumping-up their own success and minimizing internal setbacks.
According to April 20, 2020 MarketWatch article, the face mask market will reach 3.14 billion by 2026. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand all across the world. 50 countries already made mask wearing mandatory in public. In response to this demand, companies such as BMW are making face masks to assist in supplying the demand. Other companies that have showed interest or are currently manufacturing masks include General Motors, Ford and Rolls-Royce.
The largest producer and exporter of masks is China manufacturing around 100 million masks a day producing half of the world’s supply. 90% of masks in the USA are imported from China. In comparison Japan imports 70% of their masks. A prime concern for many countries is their dependency on China for face masks.
Elizabeth Braw’s article “Beware of Bad Samaritans,” where she suggests that you should beware of the motives when receiving medical aid from China and Russia. China has sent face masks to France, Serbia and other EU countries. Companies like the telecommunications giant Huawei has sent masks to the Netherlands, Spain and Italy to use the goodwill to influence for more lucrative contracts in Europe.
There have been push back from a few countries in Europe. A few months back, the Dutch government recalled approximately 600,000 face masks that were imported from China. The Dutch media sighted that the masks did not met safety requirements. Other European countries that complained about Chinese medical supplies include Spain and the Czech Republic.
According to an article written in the Spanish newspaper EL Pais, it was revealed that the rapid coronavirus tests were not consistent in positive case detection. The tests were found to only detect the virus 30% of the time. The Chinese Embassy in Spain responded that the manufacturer used, Bioeasy was not on the list of manufacturers that were given a license from China’s National Medical Products Administration.
Shipping medical supplies to European countries and other areas of the world seem to be a strategy of the Chinese government to showcase the country as being a global leader according to Brian Wong’s article “China’s Mask Diplomacy ,” in The Diplomat. In the article, Wong talks about China’s mask diplomacy as part of a strategy to gain favor in countries, increase their own business networks and to influence multinational institutions. The question at the end of the day is what are the intentions of Chinese goodwill?