Chinese state media on Tuesday deflected complaints about the poor quality of masks and coronavirus test kits shipped from China to other countries by insisting “quality concerns” are overblown and the “vast majority” are up to standards, despite growing complaints to the contrary.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) media organs blamed the countries that purchased Chinese supplies for using them improperly and cast aspersions on the foreign suppliers of raw materials to Chinese industry.
The CCP’s Global Times produced a masterpiece of evasive doublespeak on Tuesday, condemning “conspiracy theories” about the heavy failure rate of Chinese medical equipment, while slipping in a convoluted admission that “risks of quality issues do exist due to a combination of factors from illegal production activities to improper procurement channels, shortages in crucial foreign materials and loopholes in foreign regulations that require attention from all governments.”
“Hyping up and politicizing quality issues based on several individual cases is not only counterproductive in the global fight against the pandemic but could also be dangerous going forward, as many countries are running out of the life-saving equipment, Chinese officials, businesses and analysts warned,” the Global Times added, as if Chinese officials, businessmen, and analysts could be expected to say anything else.
The Chinese state paper complained that other governments have not provided enough details of the equipment failures. For example, the article suggested those 600,000 Chinese sanitary masks that proved unreliable in the Netherlands might have failed, not because of Chinese manufacturing, but because “material that China relies on importing from Switzerland and Turkey” might have been defective.
The Global Times went on to blame lax certification standards from foreign entities such as the “so-called U.S. Food and Drug Administration” and the European Union for allowing shady Chinese companies to steal sales away from more reputable firms. Nameless Chinese officials provided assurances that “crackdowns” on these dodgy manufacturers are underway.
“Regarding the masks the Dutch officials have asked to recall, it was unclear whether they had gained proper certification and were purchased through proper channels, as the officials did not disclose the source of the masks,” the Global Times huffed.
As for the infamously inaccurate coronavirus test kits pouring out of China, the Global Times blamed end users in countries such as Spain, the Philippines, and the Czech Republic for using the kits incorrectly, in addition to slamming foreign procurers for doing business with the wrong Chinese companies.
An unidentified “insider” from an unnamed agency in an unspecified country magically appeared to confirm everything the CCP said about the defective equipment:
The Spanish government last week withdrew 8,000 orders of rapid testing kits from China because of inaccurate results, according to media reports. Some other countries, including the Philippines and the Czech Republic, have also reportedly claimed that some Chinese-made testing kits are inaccurate.
However, probing into these incidents also revealed that foreign procurement agents and officials failed to follow specific instructions released by Chinese authorities. In the case of the Czech Republic, local health officials did not follow instructions on how to use the testing kits.
The Spanish government purchased the testing kits in question from a company called Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology. But the Chinese Embassy in Spain said that the company was not approved by Chinese authorities and was not included on a list of 12 suppliers the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) provided to Spanish officials. Bioeasy also said in a statement on Friday that Spanish health workers probably have not followed instructions provided by the company in collecting testing samples.
An insider close to the matter told the Global Times on Monday that the intermediary for the purchase had contacted several manufacturers in China but decided to buy from the Shenzhen-based firm because it was the first to respond.
“Such incidents reflect an eagerness of foreign companies and governments to seek medical supplies in order to meet growing domestic demand, however, some have been so anxious in inking orders that they sometimes ignore strict quality control procedures,” said the insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
That was also the case with the incident in the Philippines, where officials claimed that some Chinese-made testing kits produced inaccurate results.
After muttering about “irregular sales activities” of ventilators, thermometers, and their components that might lead to more complaints about quality, the Global Times complained about an alleged “ideologically driven bias toward everything associated with China” and blamed foreign officials for “politicizing” the coronavirus epidemic.
The Global Times fired off an editorial on Monday, raging against anyone who dares to criticize the suspiciously high failure rate of medical equipment coming from the country that claims to have reduced local transmissions of the virus to zero in the heart of the outbreak zone.
The editorial allowed that some dubious manufacturers have set up shop in China and should be hounded out of business by CCP regulators, while also complaining that “standards in different countries are inconsistent” and implying “governments and media of other countries” are irrationally over-hyping quality issues.
This was followed by the customary threats against foreigners who make the grave mistake of angering the “Chinese public”:
As the whole world urgently buys from China, omissions may still occur even under tightened Chinese management. China is making active efforts to supply products to relevant countries out of great goodwill. The importers should also deal with disputes with reciprocal goodwill. If public opinion in relevant countries makes a big deal of the quality disputes, this could easily be seen as deliberate provocation by the Chinese public.
It’s hoped countries import medical products from reputable Chinese companies. As far as the Global Times knows, some foreign governments are reluctant to choose importers from the list of trustworthy companies recommended by Chinese embassies, worrying there may be State-owned enterprises. Instead, they are more willing to directly contact Chinese companies themselves. They shouldn’t make rush decisions in case they purchase inferior products from disqualified companies, triggering a public opinion spat and disrupting epidemic control cooperation.
China has controlled the epidemic situation mainly by relying on its own produced medical materials. The Chinese products are undoubtedly reliable. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been so many countries placing orders with China. If there is any problem, let’s solve it together.
Writing at the Washington Times on Monday, Spain-based commentator Jorge Gonzalez-Gallarza Hernandez granted that Spain and the European Union might have ordered supplies from China in too much haste, without properly vetting the suppliers, and Spanish officials have not handled the ensuing controversy well, but noted both Chinese corporate and government officials have also been evasive in responding to quality complaints.
Among other things, Beijing’s list of approved vendors was published after Spain bought those coronavirus test kits with a 70 percent failure rate from Bioeasy, a company that turned out to be absent from the approval list.
“Accepting this as an excuse would assume that any medical equipment Chinese firms have exported prior to the official list release is beyond Beijing’s responsibility to quality-control. How reassuring,” Hernandez said sarcastically.
“What friendly country allows exports of test kits that it wouldn’t use on its own population? Given the predatory nature of China’s development aid, likening its medical equipment sales to the Belt and Road initiative may turn an accurate parallel,” Hernandez concluded, referring to China’s vast infrastructure program, criticized for luring Third World governments into taking out Chinese loans they can never repay.