China has distributed nearly 4 billion masks to foreign countries as it ramps up production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a move to restore its image as a global leader focused on humanitarian relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in its country and spread across the world.
However, The Spectator provides a new account of how China's latest diplomacy has turned out to be an absolute 'disaster,' in the latest example with Italy and other European countries.
China told the world that it would donate tons of PPE to Italy to slow the virus outbreak. Reports now indicate that China actually charged Italy for PPE, instead of donating. It also turns out the PPE China sent over was the same equipment that Italy donated to China earlier in the year. What a mess...
"Before the virus hit Europe, Italy sent tons of PPE to China to help China protect its own population. China then has sent Italian PPE back to Italy -- some of it, not even all of it ... and charged them for it," a senior Trump administration official told The Spectator.
Since March 1, China has exported 3.86 billion masks, 37.5 million pieces of PPE, 16,000 ventilators, and 2.84 million test kits across the globe, according to the New York Post.
Many countries who have received masks and other medical equipment from China have complained about the quality does not meet medical standards. China has apologized for quality issues and blamed its defective equipment on others.
Last week, we noted that the Netherlands was forced to recall 1.3 million face masks produced in China because they did not meet safety standards.
In Spain, the Ministry of Health on March 26 revealed that 640,000 COVID-19 tests that it had purchased from China were defective.
On March 28, the French government, which has several weeks of medical supplies left, announced it had ordered one billion face masks from China. It remains to be seen if the masks will be defective
"It's so disingenuous for Chinese officials now to say we are the ones who are helping the Italians or we are the ones who are helping the developing world when, in fact, they are the ones who infected all of us," the senior administration official said.
"Of course, they should be helping. They have a special responsibility to help because they are the ones who began the spread of the coronavirus and did not give the information required to the rest of the world to plan accordingly."
The official also said China's disinformation campaign to downplay the severity of the virus delayed the administration's response to prepare the country for an outbreak by at least a month.
"The disinformation that China has put out is crippling responses around the world... We're operating on some level with a hand-tied behind our back."
The revelations surrounding Italy and faulty medical equipment shipments to European countries are fueling distrust among Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is attempting to position himself as the world's new humanitarian superpower.