Commentary / Coronavirus

Medical Supply Chain From China a ‘National Security Risk’

coronavirusThe outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus, which was recently labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), has highlighted the longstanding issue of America’s dependence on China for medical supplies.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new executive order aimed at ensuring medical supplies and pharmaceuticals are made in America, in response to the spread of the virus.

While a White House spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times about the order, an official statement from Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) office appeared to confirm its existence, as did media reports.

The announcement comes as the Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times published an article saying that China “could ban the export of face masks and other medical gear to America which are in acute shortage,” over recent actions by the United States to restrict market access to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, which was founded in 1987 by a former People’s Liberation Army engineer.

The United States is “dramatically dependent” on China for medical supplies that include among them masks, scans, prescription drugs, and their ingredients, according to Rosemary Gibson, a senior adviser at the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute, and the co-author of “China RX: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine.”

“Our dependence is a risk to our national security,” she told The Epoch Times. “For prescription drugs, 90 percent of the core ingredients, the chemicals, and other ingredients depend on China.”

Gibson said the dependence on China is a huge risk because it exposes the lack of availability of certain medicines that are crucially needed in the United States, especially antibiotics. Doctors and nurses could also be at risk if there’s a shortage of masks and protective gowns.

Last week, the Trump administration granted exemptions from tariffs on medical products imported from China, which include protective masks and medical gloves.

“This is about life and death here,” Gibson added. “This is about survivability.”

The United States is ramping up efforts to quell the spread of the virus, which is now confirmed in over 1,300 people across the country, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University. At least 38 people have died from the virus, as of press time.

Rubio praised the administration’s expected executive order, a day before chairing a March 12 hearing titled, “The Coronavirus and America’s Small Business Supply Chain.” He serves as chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

“The coronavirus outbreak has been a wake-up call that we must combat America’s supply chain vulnerabilities and dependence on China in critical sectors of our economy,” Rubio said in a statement.

“The Trump Administration’s forthcoming Executive Order is a very strong first step toward increasing domestic production by enforcing Buy American requirements for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, as well as fast-tracking FDA approval of critical products impacted by the coronavirus outbreak’s strain on the supply chain.”

Gibson said the reliance on China for medical supplies stems from the communist regime’s engagement in a “strategy of illegal trade practices to fix prices to dump products [and] medicines on the global market at below-market prices.”

“They subsidized their domestic companies, they don’t want to import our products and so that has driven out western companies,” she said. “It’s not just lower costs, it’s market manipulation.”

Details of what the executive order would entail remain unclear. Trump announced late on March 11 that the United States will impose a 30-day travel ban on travelers from Europe amid coronavirus concerns, with exemptions for the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Robert J. Bunker, adjunct research professor at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, told The Epoch Times it would be a “massive strategic mistake for the United States to allow itself to continue to be vulnerable to Chinese ‘pharmaceutical blackmail’ potentials.”

“The communist regime could use such leverage for international gains such as further cracking down on Hong Kong or isolating Taiwan by threatening to withhold pharmaceutical deliveries to the United States if its demands are not met,” he said via email.

The State Department is also urging Americans to think carefully before traveling outside the country because of the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The department “advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19,” it said in an updated global health advisory on March 11.

In multiple states, people are also being cautioned against attending major gatherings. Public health officials in California are advising against gatherings of 250, and in New York state, public gatherings of 500 people or more are being banned.

On March 12, Vice President Mike Pence said officials are expecting to see thousands of cases of coronavirus in the United States. Trump also announced on March 11 that he will instruct the Treasury Department to allow individuals and businesses negatively affected by the coronavirus to defer their tax payments beyond the April 15 filing deadline.

Reprinted with Permission from - Epoch Times by - Bowen Xiao

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Karen
1 year ago

This Caronavirus Pandemic is absolutely a “wake up” call to the US. It is not just that we get a huge amount of product from
China and therefore we are dependent on whatever we import, BUT SO MUCH OF WHAT WE DO IMPORT IS CONTAMINATED. There is no oversight in their factories.
I have even found so called “organic” food companies importing “organic” frozen vegetables form China. Who does the oversight? A one-time initial inspection does not cut it for monitoring organic soil and what may, at a later date, be using toxic pesticides on the produce.
The melamine debacle with dog food and the contamination of powdered baby formula, contamination of lead in kitchenware and contamination of our pharmaceuticals….
The contamination of the ARB family of BP meds is only the tip of the iceberg. Now generic ranitidine (Zantac) and generic Metformin. In the research I have done on pharmaceutical factories (even going to some of the factories’ websites) over 90% of the factories GLOBALLY get their excipients (inactive ingredients) from China. Even INDIA gets a percentage of their excipients from China.
The Pharmaceutical companies in the US that have their pharmaceuticals made in China DO NOT CHECK EACH BATCH of meds that enter this country for sale for contamination.
The pharmacy, Valisure.com (New Haven, Conn), tests every batch of meds that they sell. They are the ones who did the lab analysis on Zantac & Metformin and reported it to the authorities.
What better way for a country to become a “world power” than by contaminating exports to its competitors/enemies.
Come on USA! For the health and economic welfare of this country LET’S BRING FACTORIES BACK HOME!!!

Thomas Dickinson
1 year ago

The Chinese government includes many sharp businessmen that view business as a war, a life or death situation. They also tend to view things from a long term perspective, like a 25 or even 50 year plan, as opposed to most American businessmen who generally plan for this quarter or perhaps this year. Many of the problems we see now started in the 1980’s. By the late 1990’s it was obvious that many products critical to the U.S. were being sourced from China. Also, the Chinese had undercut U.S. prices to the point that the sources in the U.S. and other places had been driven out of business. Thus the Chinese became the only source for many products.
Rare earth metals which are critical to computers and other electronic devices are one type of product in this category. Electronic components and certain medicines are another.
Since Trump was inaugurated he has tried to rectify such problems, but because the situation has been developing for 30 years it is nearly impossible to rectify in a short period of time. Nobody can wave a magic wand and make functioning mines or factories appear overnight. There are many people who have benefited ($$$$$) from the situation where the Chinese control significant portions of our economy and they are opposed to changing it. Many of those people are in our government.
Some people seem to think that they are so rich that if anything bad happens to the U.S. they can just move somewhere else and live happily ever after. The Democrats proclaim that all humans are the same so we should just depend on everyone else and we will be one big happy world.
Unfortunately, not all people view the world that way. They want to win and they aren’t planning to be magnanimous and sharing when they do. IF we don’t take care of Americans it is extremely unlikely that any other country is going to step up and treat us like their favorite grandchildren.
(Read your history. It has happened before. Powerful nations have collapsed. Perhaps this is why the left pushes teaching of political correctness over the teaching of history?) We can save ourselves but the American people have to do it. We can’t just whine until the problems go away. We have to develop solutions and implement them.
We need to wake up and be self-sufficient before we wake up and find that we are slaves.

Tad
1 year ago

Jack Ma, co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, plans to donate 500,000 test kits and 1 million face masks to the US. Wonder why we don’t hear about things like this in the MSM news??

Michelle
1 year ago

Many Americans have been distressed that China manufactures ALL vaccines that are mandatory for kids to enroll in school. China still uses mercury as a preservative and since they are outside US jurisdiction our American children are continuing to experience autism and brain dysfunctions as a result of mercury poisoning.
Boycott everything made in China. Transfer your prescriptions to local apothecaries and out of major pharmacies.
It is time to make our prescriptions in the USA.
Time to Keep America Great again by manufacturing our own medications. What an easy way to murder an entire nation – poison the vaccines. It is really a national security threat for Americans to trust a nation that dabbles freely in bio-terrorism.

Peter K
1 year ago

The decades-long practice of relying on foreign countries to supply much of what Americans need and consume is now basked in a bright light primarily due to OUR president’s call to always consider America FIRST, not in isolation, but as a matter of common sense. The Clinton era NAFTA disaster is now being viewed through more critical eyes than ever. Ross Perot was 100%. Hopefully, the days of that “sucking sound” of jobs leaving the USA are over and we, the people will not elect those that would bring it back.

anna hubert
1 year ago

So we depend on Arabs for oil and on Chinese for everything else, ain.t that a kick in the head?

mike
1 year ago

We are also dependent on china for critical metals. Example: We have huge deposits of manganese in the U.S. Yet we import 100% of what we use. Does that make sense?
We can thank former administrations for the fix we are in. They made it hard for companies to remain competitive and so companies moved their operations offshore. In retrospect it is a huge strategic blunder wasnt it? Rare earths are a great example. We had 90% of the market but it was to many regulations and to much expense to comply with government mandated compliance so what happened? We closed our plants, china bought them up moved the bulk of it to china and then china corners the market. Ever wonder why italy has so much coronavirus? The chinese are there buying up anything of worth they think they can use. global metals the same way in south america, being bought up by china. They are no dummies, they want to be the dominant nation and they are playing the long game, to our detriment.
Our stupid and greedy “politicians” play right into their hands. Where did our uranium go? Just ask hillary, that is if you can get a straight answer out of her, good luck on that.

Don Richardson
1 year ago
Reply to  mike

You are precisely correct. Many people in our country, and many of those in our government have gotten rich, extremely wealthy, from dealing with the Chinese. Many of the deals involved have been detrimental to the U.S.A. In Hilary’s case the uranium didn’t go to China, but it’s essentially the same situation. It was sold to people who are competition, if not enemies to America.
We cannot afford to allow the critical needs of our citizens to be sold to our enemies.

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