USA

China sold nearly 4 billion masks to other countries over past month

China has sold nearly four billion masks to foreign countries in the past month and is ramping up production, even as some nations have questioned the quality of the medical supplies, according to a report.

After a lull during the coronavirus outbreak, the Communist Party has called on factories to increase production as the number of cases has surpassed one million around the world, Agence-France Presse reported on Sunday.

China has exported 3.86 million masks, 37.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million testing kits since March 1, customs official Jin Hai told the news agency.

But a number of countries – the Netherlands, the Philippines, Croatia, Turkey and Spain – have complained that the medical equipment has been substandard.

The Dutch health ministry said last week that it had to recall 600,000 masks shipped from China on March 21 because they were faulty.

China even required Italy, which is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, to buy back a supply of protective clothing it gave China in the early days of the outbreak.

“Before the virus hit Europe, Italy sent tons of PPE to China to help China protect its own population,” The Spectator reported, citing a Trump administration official. “China then has sent Italian PPE back to Italy – some of it, not even all of it … and charged them for it.”

Beijing blasted the media for the reports, arguing that they “did not reflect the full facts.”

“In reality there are various factors, such as China having different standards and different usage habits to other countries. Even improper use can lead to doubts over quality,” said Jiang Fan, an official with the Ministry of Commerce.

China reported more than 82,000 cases, but many countries are skeptical of the accuracy of the numbers.

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