- Death toll in the United States has surpassed 25,000 while hospitals struggle with equipment shortages
- American officials and executives point to new problems in buying equipment or taking donations from China.
- Officials in Washington have debated whether to accept a donation of masks from the Chinese Foreign Ministry
The two superpowers in a bid to rival themselves as heroes amid a crisis that has exposed weaknesses in their leadership are putting their ego before the plight of the masses.
Shipments have run into unexpected delays as Chinese officials impose new regulations in response to complaints of low-quality products. And some American officials remain reluctant to accept gifts of gear because they fear giving the Chinese Communist Party a propaganda win.
At the moment, Chinese officials have the upper hand in the supply chain of medical pieces of equipment.
The two sides must work harmoniously, even as Americans believe there is a hidden agenda over China’s “donation diplomacy.
The complications could bolster the arguments of some Trump administration officials that American companies should move their supply chains out of China.
Chinese regulators embarrassed by reports of shoddy medical equipment sent to Europe, imposed a new rule on Friday mandating that customs officers inspect every shipment of masks, ventilators, and other medical gear before they leave the country.
That was the latest in a series of regulatory actions that had begun to hinder shipments.
American officials said that after hearing complaints from U.S. companies, they have had to scramble to deal with the delays on a case-by-case basis.
Jacob Parker, the senior vice president at the U.S.-China Business Council, said the restrictions were “the top issue for some of the biggest companies in the world.”
“It is a good-intentioned policy that has a variety of unintended consequences across a variety of areas,” he said. “It remains a big issue for our members.”
With a growing number of casualties in New York, what are the officials doing?
Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Friday that Beijing would work with other nations “to safeguard international public health security.” The country exported more than $1.4 billion of pandemic supplies from March 1 to April 4, he said, and scores of countries had signed contracts.
However, many of the shipments are part of regular, long-term commercial arrangements between non-Chinese companies like 3M and factories or contractors in China.
The State Department in a bid to compete with China on publicity over aid says it has given nearly $500 million in foreign aid to help with the pandemic.
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a call with reporters in Europe that “there is no country in the world that will provide as much aid and assistance through multiple forms as the United States of America will.”
One new rule in China dictates that supplies heading to the United States must have approval not just from the Food and Drug Administration, but now also from China’s National Medical Products Administration, which many importers do not have.
The regulations have threatened to disrupt ventilator supply chains for companies like General Electric and have impeded shipments of masks managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to people familiar with the matter.
For weeks, officials in Washington have debated whether to accept a donation of masks from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, American officials said. Though medical workers are desperate for the masks, some officials argue that taking the donation would aid China’s propaganda campaign.