Rumor Buster: Are face masks purchased from China "substandard?"

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/4/7 15:12:54

The production line of a mask manufacturer in southwest China's Chongqing, March 2, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Quanchao)

While many Chinese manufacturers are working around the clock to meet a surging global demand for medical materials to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, some in the West are busy with hyping up the misleading issue of Chinese-made products.

Recently, some media outlets in the Netherlands reported that the Dutch Ministry of Health recalled a batch of masks purchased from China "due to quality problems," claiming the masks were "not appropriate for the medical staff in the ICU."

In response to such reports, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday said based on preliminary investigations, the masks were for non-medical use only, as the Chinese company had informed the Dutch side before shipment, echoing the voices of some local purchasers in the country who made the fact straight afterwards.

People work at a workshop producing face masks in Tangshan, north China's Hebei Province, March 30, 2020. (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)

Noting masks of various categories offer different levels of protection, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the ministry, reminded everyone to "double-check the instructions for use to make sure what they purchase can serve their intended purposes and avoid making mistakes in a rush."

To be more specific, medical masks are classified into three categories in China, namely medical protective masks, surgical masks and ordinary medical masks, which are subject to different standards.

In order to strengthen quality control, Chinese customs will only release medical exports accompanied by certificates of registration approved by medical product administrations and documentation to prove they meet the quality control standards of their respective export destinations.

Starting Wednesday, exporters of medical products need to provide extra documentation when they go through customs clearance, according to a notice jointly issued by the Ministry of Commerce with the General Administration of Customs and the National Medical Products Administration.

Airport workers prepare to unload cargos of Chinese medical supplies from an airplane at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque City, the Philippines, April 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19, China's daily output of face masks has skyrocketed to 100 million units, with that of N95-grade medical masks N95 reaching 1.6 million units, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on March 6.

The export volume of medical supplies has registered 10.2 billion yuan (1.43 billion US dollars) as of Saturday since March 1, including 3.86 billion face masks, Jin Hai, an official with the General Administration of Customs, said at a news briefing on Sunday.

These figures demonstrate not only China's strong commitment to saving more lives and combating the pandemic alongside other nations, but also the tremendous global trust in up-to-standard Chinese-made medical products.

As Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday during a phone conversation with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, all sides should adopt a realistic attitude and resolve individual differences in the process of product purchase through equal consultation.

"Any stigmatization of the products is not conducive to anti-epidemic cooperation," Wang said.

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