China’s Medicinal Monopoly Leaves The World Vulnerable

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Coronavirus has revealed America’s dependence on China for protective and medical supplies.

The Chinese government stunned the world this year with its gross misconduct and concealment of critical facts that led to the emergence and spread of coronavirus. Beijing’s stonewalling efforts directly resulted in the rapid spread of the virus, the collapse of regional economies, and the inability of countries to prepare for and respond effectively to the outbreak. Even more concerning, as countries struggled to grapple with the burden of the virus, the Chinese government used its medicinal monopoly as a tool to shut down dissent against its dangerous behavior.   

The coronavirus pandemic exposed to the American people the dependence by our country and the world on China for crucial medicines and supply chains. In fact, the reality of China’s monopoly on essential raw materials and manufacturing output is far worse than is generally known. According to medical expert Rosemary Gibson, the Chinese government has “exhibited a pattern of deliberate and dangerous manipulation of drugs sold in the U.S. and other countries for economically motivated reasons.” Her recent analysis in the Center for Security Policy’s new book  Defending Against Biothreats: What We Can Learn from the Coronavirus Pandemic to Enhance U.S. Defenses Against Pandemics and Biological Weapons meticulously details the litany of Beijing’s medical monopolies and lawfare strategies to disarm the United States and its other adversaries against biothreats.  

Since the onset of the pandemic, China has produced and exported defective products around the globe, significantly weakening the response of government and hospitals. As detailed by Gibson, the U.K. and the U.S. received millions of defective testing kits from China. N-95 masks, hospital gowns, surgical instruments, and ventilators exported by China were contaminated. In May, the Trump administration barred 66 Chinese companies from exporting medical masks to America because of their defectiveness.

Coronavirus also exposed China’s dominance in the world’s production of the raw materials used to create essential antibiotics and medicines. Beijing currently produces 90% of the ingredients in medicines used to care for critically ill coronavirus patients. As demand for supplies surged in early March, countries realized their extremely vulnerable position relying on a single country for essential medicines.

Although the U.S. is an international leader in research, the majority of the manufacturing of drugs and medical supplies has shifted overseas. America’s last penicillin fermentation plant shuttered in 2004, leaving China to fill in the vacuum. Gibson explains that Beijing’s “penicillin cartel” intentionally dumps products on the global market at below-market prices, forcing manufacturing plants all over the world to close their doors. China currently supplies 90% of U.S. antibiotics.

Keenly aware of this dependence, China is continuing to issue threats to withhold drugs and preventative supplies from America and other countries who criticize the regime’s culpability in the pandemic. According to Xinhua, the state-run media agency in Beijing, Chinese officials have the ability to impose pharmaceutical export controls which would send America into “the hell of a novel coronavirus epidemic.”  Last week, China also threatened to withhold aid from the Netherlands for changing the name of its office in Taiwan to include the word Taipei.

The national security implications of China’s medical monopoly are astounding. The Chinese regime’s constant threats to withhold critical drugs from the world highlights the dangers of the centralization of the global supply chain in a single country; especially one ruled by the authoritarian stronghold of China’s Communist Party. As countries aim to better prepare for the next pandemic, the diversification of manufacturing bases must be prioritized. 

Rosemary Gibson’s incisive analysis in Defending Against Biothreats is a must-read to understand this dire and growing threat to global security.

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