China has sold nearly four billion masks to foreign countries since March, officials said, as they tried to stem widespread fears over the quality of medical exports.
Despite Chinese cases dwindling, Beijing has encouraged factories to increase the production of medical supplies as the pandemic kills over 60,000 globally and parts of the world face a protective equipment shortage.
China has exported 3.86 billion masks, 37.5 million pieces of protective clothing, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million COVID-19 testing kits since March 1, customs official Jin Hai said, with orders to more than 50 countries.
However numerous nations — including the Netherlands, the Philippines, Croatia, Turkey and Spain — have complained about substandard or faulty medical products shipped from China.
Last week, the Dutch government recalled 600,000 masks out of a Chinese shipment of 1.3 million that did not meet quality standards. Spain also rejected thousands of rapid test kits sent by an unauthorised Chinese company after it found that they were unreliable last week.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has over the past week repeatedly urged Western media not to “politicise” or “hype up” the issue.