Factories in China that manufacture masks do not meet the basic sanitation and quality standards. According to a broker with knowledge of the situation, 60 percent of factories don’t have sterile work environments, raising more questions about the quality of medical supplies that Beijing has been using to curry favor with other countries.
The broker, going under the pseudonym Chen Guohua, told the Epoch Times of a visit to one dust-filled factory where workers were handling masks on the production line with bare hands and without wearing masks.
“Who would dare to use masks that are manufactured like this? Who would dare to wear it on their face?” asked Chen.
In an attempt to change the narrative surrounding the pandemic, Beijing has engaged in what has been dubbed “mask diplomacy.” The Chinese government has offered its assistance to virus-hit countries while trying to hide the mistakes it made early in the outbreak.
With Beijing saying that the pandemic is now under control in the country, Chinese factories have been mobilized to boost the production of medical supplies. As part of this, almost 5,500 mask manufacturers were set up in China between Jan. 23 and March 11.
Since March 1, China has exported around 3.86 billion masks, 37.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million testing kits, according to Jin Hai, chief of the General Administration of Customs’ Department of General Operation.
This “mask diplomacy” has come into question however as more and more reports come out of issues with Chinese made masks and other medical equipment. Even before Chen made his revelation, countries around the world had found issues with the gear they’d received from China.
Chen’s revelation is just the latest in a string of reports regarding subpar medical equipment coming from China. Even as the country outputs supplies in large quantities, countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom are complaining that some Chinese-made medical supplies don’t meet quality standards.
On March 28, the Netherlands said that it had recalled about 600,000 masks that had come from a Chinese manufacturer. According to Dutch health officials, the masks either did not fit properly or had defective filters.
The United Kingdom, on the other hand, is seeking refunds for millions of virus antibody test kits ordered from China after a study showed that the results they produced were inaccurate. The failure was seen as a significant setback by the U.K. as it had been hoped that the tests would identify which of its citizens already had immunity, offering a swifter route out of lockdown.
On top of these, videos of unsanitary factory conditions have also surfaced on social media. Footage shared on Twitter shows working not using gloves when handling masks being processed on a conveyor belt.
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In an attempt to address these concerns, Beijing has tightened the rules governing the export of medical equipment. On March 31, authorities announced that only manufacturers who had gotten accreditation to sell their products within China could export test kits, surgical masks, ventilators, protective gowns and infrared thermometers.
Following the rule change, Chinese customs claimed to have confiscated 11.2 million medical supplies, including 9.9 million masks, 155,000 protective suits and 1.08 million testing kits, from unaccredited manufacturers.
The new accreditation rules don’t necessarily guarantee the quality and safety of medical supplies coming from China. According to Chen, most factories are simply just buying accreditation from corrupt officials to make masks.
Chen, who used to be an e-commerce seller before switching to exporting masks, explained that most of the factories making masks were initially textile or electronics factories that quickly shifted production to meet the rising demand. As such, the equipment and technology they use often do not meet sanitation and quality standards for medical equipment. As such, it looks like these factories are taking shortcuts in an effort to make money, even at the cost of their customer’s health.