China’s Communist Party has made disturbing threats about U.S. access to medications in the wake of the global spread of the coronavirus.
An article in the state-run media agency appeared to be threatening to withhold medicine made in China from the United States as the number of new cases of the COVID-19 virus seems to be declining there.
China could launch pharmaceutical export controls, sending the U.S. into “the mighty sea of coronavirus,” an article in Xinhua claimed after touting China’s handling of the virus that originated in the city of Wuhan, Fox News reported.
“If China retaliates against the United States at this time, in addition to announcing a travel ban on the United States, it will also announce strategic control over medical products and ban exports to the United States. Then the United States will be caught in the mighty sea of coronavirus,” one translation of the article read.
Sen. Marco Rubio warned that America is “dangerously reliant” on China for the production of many goods that would be critical in the fight against the pandemic which has claimed nearly 5,000 lives worldwide.
“It’s a tremendous amount of leverage,” the Florida Republican told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday, adding that the comments from Beijing are concerning as China is aware “they can threaten to cut us off from our pharmaceutical supplies, they could trigger a domestic problem here that would make it difficult for us to confront them.”
(Source: Fox News)
China has recently ramped up its rhetoric as it pushes back against reports of the coronavirus originating in Wuhan, even spouting a conspiracy theory that the U.S. military is responsible for bringing the virus into the country while bragging about its handling of the outbreak.
“We should say righteously that the U.S. owes China an apology, the world owes China a thank you,” an editorial in Xinhua declared.
The Food and Drug Administration announced a drug shortage in the efforts to combat the coronavirus, indicating that some of the raw materials needed are in short supply and are made in China.
Fox News reported:
Though the United States is a global leader in drug discovery, much of the manufacturing has moved overseas. The last American manufacturing plant to make a key component in penicillin shuttered in 2004. Since then, Chinese pharmaceuticals companies have taken over, supplying between 80 percent and 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, 70 percent of acetaminophen and about 40 percent of heparin, according to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“If China shut the door on exports of core components to make our medicines, within months our pharmacy shelves would become bare and our health care system would cease to function,” Rosemary Gibson, a senior adviser with the Hastings Center, told The New York Times.
“In the event of a natural disaster or global pandemic, then the United States will wait in line with every other country for essential medicines,” the author of “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine,” said.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been pushing to tighten “Buy American” laws as the Trump administration looks to reduce the reliance on China for medical products while encouraging more American manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.
“China has managed to dominate all aspects of the supply chain using the same unfair trade practices that it has used to dominate other sectors — cheap sweatshop labor, lax environmental regulations and massive government subsidies,” Navarro told The New York Times. “As President Trump has said, what we need to do is bring those jobs home so that we can protect the public health and the economic and national security of the country.”
The Trump administration is reportedly getting an executive order ready addressing the government’s ability to purchase medical products from foreign countries.
Rubio spoke with Fox News host Tucker Carlson as well, noting that the alarms have been sounded long before the coronavirus pandemic, and that the U.S. must “diversify our supply chain” as well as turn to more domestic production of medications.
(Source: Fox News)
“The Department of Defense should have to be required to build a stockpile of essential medicines. We should bring back the ‘buy American’ preferences,” Rubio said, adding that the U.S. should require pharmaceutical companies to reveal “what percentage of the ingredients in your medicine comes from overseas, particularly from China.”
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