China’s defective Coronavirus equipment

The EU must take action on the supply of faulty Chinese healthcare equipment including COVID-19 testing kits and face masks, argues Gianna Gancia

Gianna Gancia| Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

By Gianna Gancia MEP

21 Apr 2020

The Covid-19 outbreak has hit Europe hard, particularly Spain, Italy and France. Sadly, while national governments are doing everything possible to control the pandemic and protect those fighting on the front lines to keep citizens safe, news of exploitation has appeared in several European countries. 

It has emerged that many global governments have been victims of fraud and have been supplied with defective medical equipment and supplies. The criminals behind these supplies are Chinese companies.

Protective anti-virus equipment, such as masks, and tests used to detect Coronavirus, supplied by Chinese manufacturers, have all proved defective. The Netherlands recently discovered that 600,000 face masks imported from China were faulty. Spain, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have had to return rapid testing kits they purchased from China as they were flawed.


Shocked by the high number of deaths in several European countries and hearing that medical equipment from China, which was ordered for the sole purpose of fighting the COVID-19 virus, was knowingly defective yet purposely sent, a cross-party group of ten MEPs have written to the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josep Borrell requesting they take action against China.

It has been extremely disappointing to learn that China initially failed to disclose information on the Covid-19 virus which as we see today has lead to a dramatic and disturbing social and economic impact around the world. 

To further inflame the situation, the medical equipment which was ordered in good faith to protect citizens of member states has now been found to be of no use.

Regarding testing kits, Spain considers the supply of faulty equipment to be a criminal act because the 640,000 defective testing kits could have had dramatic health consequences and increased deaths. 

" A cross-party group of ten MEPs have written to the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josep Borrell requesting they take action against China"

Across Europe face masks had been distributed to frontline medical teams before being discovered as useless. All the masks came from China with a quality certificate.

Europe’s Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, has also launched coordinated activities spanning the world, aimed at countering the illicit traffic of counterfeit products used in the fight against the COVID-19 infection. 

That investigation discovered the illicit trade in masks, medical devices, disinfectants, sanitisers and test kits.

In the very difficult circumstances that our citizens and governments are facing it is paramount that the European Commission provides confidence through assurances, controls and standards in external trade. 

Where Europe is unable to produce its own devices and equipment in its Member States the European Commission must provide security of imports. In this regard, China has proven itself an unreliable partner.

At the same time the European Commission must now invest in Europe’s manufacturing and healthcare sector, so that we will never again face a crisis which allows European countries to be at the mercy of China, or any other country, for supplies of essential equipment.

The European Commission must give instructions to the European customs and medical authorities to check all imports, and particularly those coming from companies in China, to ensure that only products which fully comply with European standards are admitted into the Union.

The Commission must also issue a statement regarding the malpractice carried out by Chinese companies in this respect to ensure that others will not attempt to take advantage in the future and cause further distress to European citizens.

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