Since my last blog entry on health and poverty in China, coronavirus has become a global pandemic, with several countries overtaking China in number of cases (including the United States). With Europe and the United States being hit the hardest, the Chinese government has seized the opportunity to ramp up production of medical supplies to ship out to these locations.
Chinese manufacturers have been working around the clock to make ventilators, testing kits, masks, gloves, and other medical supplies. With China being hit hard economically earlier this year, this new uptick in exports has greatly helped the nation recover financially. In addition, China also leads the world as the nation with the most recoveries from coronavirus. So, all is well in China, right? Well, not so much. Increasing allegations and evidence that the Chinese government covered up early signs of the COVID-19 spread (that likely aided in spreading the disease to other countries) have damaged its global reputation. The number of cases, deaths and recoveries in China is also very suspect. The medical-supplies manufacturing has helped restore China’s image and economy, but only partly, as flawed testing kits and infected or faulty supplies have been discovered among the goods imported from China in some places.
The Chinese government has responded by threatening the manufacturers of counterfeit and faulty supplies with life in prison. While this problem may have been caused in part by the government encouraging the continuous production of goods with no quality control, China is now at least attempting to right this with new export standards and the threat of extreme punishment. It is unlikely that China’s reputation will recover anytime soon, especially as some world leaders are calling the United Nations to severely punish the nation after the epidemic is over. While the full extent of the effects of COVID-19 are yet to be seen, the damage has been done to China and international relations that may not be undone for years.