Hong Kong Government Chooses Locally Made, Vietnamese Masks – Not China’s

In this Feb. 7, 2020 file photo, workers pack surgical masks at a factory in Suining city in southwest China's Sichuan province. China won't restrict exports of medical goods needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic, a government spokesman said Thursday, April 16, 2020, amid global tension over scarce masks and …
Chinatopix via AP, File

The Hong Kong government stated that a local textile company with ties to Vietnam will produce its new reusable coronavirus masks, rejecting the option of masks made in China, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported on Friday.

Hong Kong has launched a government program to produce and distribute free, reusable masks to the public in an effort to contain its coronavirus outbreak, which has been smaller than many other regions of comparable size and population. On Friday, Hong Kong began easing restrictions on public gatherings as the city’s coronavirus cases have remained stable for weeks.

On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Innovation and Technology Annie Choi confirmed to Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) that the reusable face masks will be manufactured by a Hong Kong company called the Crystal International Group (CIG), adding that CIG maintains a production line in Vietnam.

“The company had some orders on their hands, but when they heard about this special project for Hong Kong, they freed up their factory to make a special dust-free area,” Choi told reporters.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam visited a CIG production workshop on Wednesday to oversee the production of the masks, HKFP reported. CIG is run by a director of the government-funded Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), which reportedly designed the masks.

With six layers, the mask can reportedly “immobilize” bacteria and viruses, stopping them from entering the mouth and nose when worn properly. The antibacterial action will be effective for up to 60 washes, after which the mask will require a filter replacement, according to a government statement.

Nearly 1.4 million Hong Kong citizens had already pre-registered online for the masks as of Wednesday, according to the city’s Innovation and Technology Bureau.

The masks’ online registration system has drawn criticism from some citizens concerned over data privacy. The system requires applicants to provide their “Hong Kong Identity card numbers, dates of birth, and local mobile numbers of all registrants, as well as a local delivery address,” HKFP reports.

A former member of Hong Kong’s Progressive Lawyers Group, a pro-democracy civil group, expressed his concern this week over the government’s handling of citizens’ private data. Writing on Twitter, Craig Choy said: “Privacy policy on [mask] website by Hong Kong government to distribute face masks fails to tell Hong Kongers what information it collects, the purposes, if data [will] be transferred to [a] third party, or outside Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong’s decision to use a local manufacturer for its mask program comes as several countries around the world have condemned Chinese-made masks and other coronavirus medical gear as faulty or contaminated in recent weeks, including Tanzania, India, and many others. China has shipped coronavirus medical aid — including personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, and testing kits — to regions around the world recently. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has advertised the move as a humanitarian effort to aid countries as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The CCP has also been the subject of criticism lately amid emerging evidence of its cover-up of China’s initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, late last year, which subsequently caused the virus to spread to the rest of the world and into a global pandemic. Thus, many countries, have denounced China’s defective PPE and testing kits as adding insult to injury.

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