Weaponized Medicine: China Supplying Junk Masquerading As Aid.
Contaminated drug shipments from China have forced lawmakers worldwide to give serious thought to the threat of weaponized medicine.
Pandemic has forced the world to prioritize medical security. Immediate transition to a post-coronavirus economic order will include understanding and securing the critical needs of global citizens and also the supply chains that meet them. India like other countries has received junk supplies masquerading as “aid” from China while existing public health systems are strained and at times overrun due to the increasing number of those infected by the pandemic.
Watch: India cancels orders of Covid-19 Test Kits from China
Dependence on China’s supply chains extends beyond medical supply to several products that are integral to human survival. A meticulous review is needed around the complex risks that China’s state-run economy poses. Mitigation measures to reorder these vital economic supply chains should be taken simultaneously.
A Soups of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
Everyday medicines can be critical. So growing dependence on China for imports of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), the actual medicine inside a pill, capsule, or shot should alarm one and all. The US, for example, relies on imported medicines from China. Antibiotics, over-the-counter medicine including painkillers, the ones inhibiting itching and swelling — a lot of it is imported from China.
Watch: Growing concerns over China’s Control of American Drug Supply
As the world navigates public health and economic crises triggered by Covid-19, policy establishments worldwide embrace the reality that nations are comprised of citizens, borders, and interests. Implications of subversion of global interests are immense and place two crucial objectives at the forefront. First, vital supply chains should not lay at the mercy of non-democratic adversaries; and second, resilience and cooperation amongst democracies need to be deepened.
Questions around the critical supply chains that cross sovereign borders featuring economic dislocation and global disruption lie at the very intersection of the ongoing debate between globalization and nationalism.
China’s Economic Clout
Authoritarian regimes in Beijing and Tehran, rather than extending cooperation when confronted by the coronavirus outbreak, accelerated its transmission by concealing their failures, propagating disinformation about its source, and expending immense resources.
China’s initial cover-up “probably cost the world community two months to respond,” deteriorating the global healthcare scenario.US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien
Had any other country triggered such a preventive, far-reaching, and deadly crisis, it would now be a global outcast. With its tremendous economic clout, China has largely escaped censure. Xi’s regime will take considerable effort to restore its standing at home and abroad.
Dictatorships have manipulated uncritical assessments of their true nature, gaining leverage over nations made vulnerable by the seduction of economic supply for past decades. While President Xi Jinping tried to suppress the pandemic brewing in Wuhan, his coterie conspired to weaponize China’s medical supply chain by draining high-quality medical supplies from Western sources.
Creating global positioning for ‘Chinese Aid’
Two weeks after Xi rejected scientists’ recommendations to declare an emergency, the government announced heavy-handed containment measures including putting millions on lockdown. This was followed by flooding desperate ones with bad equipment thereby controlling a global position in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
There comes a whole new concept for global foreign policy to contend with: the weaponized medicine method of China. Medicines can be used as a weapon of war. Supplies can be withheld. Medicines can be made with lethal contaminants or sold without any real medicine in them, rendering them ineffective. China could restrict or downsize its exports of antibiotics to the United States as a trade war retaliation tool.
China has become a geopolitical rival for critical drugs and the biggest vulnerability is overdependence and a single source of supply. Exploiting the crisis for their exclusive economic advantage can also be a potential reason behind all this. Beijing is weaponizing medicine to advance its standing in the world order. Previous incidents of contaminated drug shipments from China have also prompted lawmakers worldwide to give serious thought to the threat of weaponized medicine.
While China covered up the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan, instituted preventive measures including flight inspections, before China’s leaders had even acknowledged the outbreak. Vietnam halted flights from China and closed all schools. Both the responses recognized the need for transparency including updates on the number and location of infections and public advisories on how to restrict the spread of COVID19.
Chinese government’s failures were aided by apologists in global entities. Chinese officials aggressively promote false narratives about the origins of coronavirus, propagating the myth that COVID19 is an American biological weapon.
Should the world thank China?
The reason why China’s leaders are publicly congratulating themselves for not limiting exports of medical supplies and APIs used to make medicines, vitamins and vaccines is that if China decided to ban such exports the world would be in a bigger mess.
So, is it a blessing that China is not that mean during the pandemic? Maybe so! There is no reason to believe that China will not be petty in the future. China’s leaders have a record of choking strategic exports including rare-earth minerals to punish countries that don’t heed to them.
This is not the first time China has considered weaponizing its dominance in global medical supplies and APIs.
It is high time that the COVID19 pandemic is taken as a wake-up call by a world that has accepted China’s lengthening shadow over global supply chains. By reducing China’s global economic influence beginning in the pharmaceutical sector can the world be kept safe from the political pathologies of its authoritarian regime.