China keeps engine roaring to ensure global medical supplies amid pandemic

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As demand for life-saving medical supplies continues to skyrocket globally, China, as a major
world supplier, is sparing no efforts to ensure steady supplies, with factories running 24 hours a
day to make everything from masks to test kits and ventilators, airlines and shipping firms
scrambling to expand transport channels and officials stepping up efforts to help boost the supply
However, even as China ramps up efforts to increase medical supplies, major logistical hurdles
remain due to restrictions put in place by many countries to combat the global coronavirus
pandemic. There are also concerns over the quality of some of the equipment, in light of recent
media reports about some malfunctioning masks and test kits – attracting calls for intensified
quality-control efforts both in China and abroad.
Surge in supplies
Beijing Aeonmed Co, which makes ventilators that help COVID-19 patients breathe, has kept its
machines running 24 hours a day and has converted other production lines to focus on ventilators
to meet surging export orders.
"There are too many overseas orders," Li Kai, an executive at the company told the Global Times
on Sunday, noting that the company has received "tens of thousands" of overseas orders from
about 40 countries and regions, including Italy, the UK, Mongolia and Ukraine.
Aeonmed is not alone. Since February, there are 12,000 new companies in China that have started
to produce masks and ventilators, bringing the total to 53,000, with over 17,420 of them being
certified exporters, according to media reports. Some companies, such as Beijing Siriusmed
Medical Device, said that all of its output of 80 to 100 per week are for the overseas market, Cui
Gang, clinical director of the company, told the Global Times.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surges across the world, global demand for
ventilators, has increased as much as 10 times, according to some estimates. Facing dire shortages
of the devices, public health workers in countries from Italy to the US have been or will reportedly
be forced to decide which patients to save and which ones not to.
Apart from ventilators, global demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks,
gloves, gowns and other medical devices such as test kits and infrared thermometers has also been
surging. Maria Van Kerkhove, an official with the World Health Organization, warned on
Wednesday that the world was facing a "significant shortage" of PPE and other devices, though
she did not offer a specific amount.
While the Chinese government and other organizations continue to donate PPE to dozens of
countries around the world, the number of export orders has also been rising significantly. More
than 17 countries such as the UK and Italy have signed purchase contracts with Chinese firms,
Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said last week. Over the weekend,
France ordered one billion masks with the vast majority from China and will dispatch 56 cargo
flights to transport them.
"The overseas demand for masks is far more than supply," Cao Jun, General Manager at the
Zhejiang-based Lanhine Corp, told the Global Times on Sunday, noting that half of the company's
1.2 million daily mask output will go to overseas markets, including Germany and the US.

Shenzhen-based BGI Genomics said that it has exported 7 million test kits to 70 countries and
regions and has increased its daily output to 600,000, the company said in a statement to the
Global Times.
Overall, China has significantly increased the output of PPE and other medical devices and the
numbers could further grow, according to industry insiders. Between February 1 and March 15,
28,000 companies have expanded their operations to production of masks, gowns and other
medical equipment, according to business data provider Tianyancha. For example, daily output of
masks has increased by 16 folds to around 116 million a day and the number could further jump,
according to media reports.
"Just like the response to the epidemic itself, China is really making a nationwide effort to ensure
medical supplies to support in the global battle against the coronavirus pandemic," Wang Jun,  an
analyst at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times on
China's nationwide efforts
Not just Chinese factories, officials and other companies have also been scrambling to ensure
steady supply of medical equipment for the world. Apart from domestic fiscal and other policy
support for medical equipment producers to expand production, Chinese officials have also been
arranging transportation for the supplies.
As of Thursday, China's airlines had conducted 23 flights that carried a total of 406 tons of
medical supplies to countries around the world, Zhang Qing, a senior official with the Civil
Aviation Administration of China, told a press briefing on Sunday, adding that the agency will
offer cash incentives to help airlines.
SF Express, a delivery services firm, said that since February 13, it has opened routes, including to
New York, and has delivered 742 tons of supplies to more than 50 countries and regions, the
company said in a statement to the Global Times on Sunday. China Postal Airlines and YTO
Express have also operated over 100 cargo flights and delivered a total of more than 710 tons of
supplies overseas, Jin Jinghua, an official at China's State Post Bureau (SPB), told a press briefing
on Sunday.
Chinese officials have also maintained operation of the China-Europe cargo train services, given
the strict deadlines for the supplies, air cargo remains the best option for transportation of medical
equipment, as sea transport and even intercontinental trains could take too long, industry analysts
For example, cargo shipped from Northwest China's Shaanxi Province could take as many as 18
days to reach Germany, Xu Yuanyuan, manager of Shaanxi Further Strategy Supply Chain
Management Co, told the Global Times.
Xu said that logistics could be more rapid and smoother for orders made by foreign embassies.
Many foreign governments, including Russia and the UK, have also reportedly dispatched
airplanes to pick up supplies directly from China.
Logistics, quality concerns
Still, there are major hurdles that remain for logistics, according to Chinese officials and
businesses. "We are also seeing delays in overseas packages caused by insufficient global air
capacities and disruptions to global shipping channels because of the pandemic," Jin with the SPB
Sally Gao, an employee from the Wuhan Guide Infrared Co, said that the company has been

facing difficulties to ship its infrared thermometers overseas and a batch of 20 thermometers are
still held up at US customs. "The biggest problem is that overseas clients are in a hurry for our
products but transportation takes too long," Gao told the Global Times on Sunday, adding that air
cargo is too expensive.
In light of recent reports about quality issues with Chinese-made medical supplies, several
factories on Sunday said that quality comes first even as demand surges.
"Ventilators go through various inspections before obtaining certifications and must be in line with
regulations on quality," Li from Beijing Aeonmed said, adding that the company has been
exporting its products to more than 100 countries and regions even before the pandemic.
Still, after the Netherlands reportedly recalled Chinese-made masks because they did not meet
quality standards, there are mounting calls in China to intensify efforts to ensure the quality of all
its medical supplies not just because of safety concerns but also its impact on China's
manufacturing sector.
"No doubt, quality is crucial for medical supplies. It's very important for China to make sure that
all products are up to global standards," Wang said, noting that apart from domestic quality-
control efforts, foreign regulators' cooperation is also necessary to make sure purchases are made
through proper channels.
Some companies said that they have been facing frequently changing rules and regulations from
foreign governments over the requirements of medical supplies, which may have caused some
"misunderstandings" and confusion but insisted that only a small amount of products have quality
Some have also denied raising prices in light of the surging demand, while others say that certain
increases in prices are normal given the rising prices of raw materials.
Cao from mask producer Lanhine said that it's inevitable that masks would see price hikes due to
the increasing prices of raw materials. "Price hikes are in compliance with market supply-demand
relations, for which, the Western media cannot apply 'double standards' to," said Cao.

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