With a number of reports from over the pond of Mr Trump praising China, even in areas where I think most sane people will think ‘there is room for improvement’, I am a little reluctant to join in but credit where it is due.
The COVID-19 crisis and the associated shortages of PPE has resulted in numerous scumbags trying to manufacturer and sell, at a massive profit, masks and other PPE of dubious quality. Having spent the majority of the last three months assessing offers of PPE for several organisations I have seen first-hand some of the lengths these people go to try to legitimise their products: falsified test results and certificates amongst other things. Whilst certainly not being the only source, China has come under a lot of scrutiny in this area, fuelled by longstanding suspicions about the quality of PPE and medical goods coming out of China and its historic unwillingness to act against trademark and patent infringements. BUT China has taken considerable measures to stem the tide of counterfeit PPE and Medical devices being shipped out of the country. It’s customs agencies have put in place fairly draconian checks before goods are allowed to be shipped, they have created a White List for both PPE and Medical Grade protective equipment and strictly controlled what manufacturers can claim on the product packaging (to reduce the likelihood of manufacturers making false claims). This has significantly reduced the flow of counterfeit goods even though it has also caused some delays in legitimate manufacturers getting stocks out to the EU, I am aware of at least two long-established and highly regarded manufacturers having to re-package full consignments to get them out of China. The other unintended consequence centres around the labelling restrictions; in many cases, this has resulted in manufacturers having to package goods with only very generic descriptions on the packaging, with them not allowed to put for example Type IIR classification on fluid resistant surgical masks. This has caused significant anxiety with purchasers who do not believe the product is Type IIR compliant ‘because it doesn’t say so on the box’, it has also meant suppliers have had to forward and then explain test certificates and other supporting evidence, often with the customer still remaining unconvinced.
Finally, it is disappointing that there continues to be some pretty top-level institutional bias against any Chinese goods, with blanket statements being issued that all should be considered fake! Whilst we all want to keep everyone as safe as possible we are still not in the position where we have enough good value, high-quality PPE to go round, the truth is we need these Chinese goods. I am sure the counterfeiters are one step ahead and have moved operations to countries lower on the radar.