Congress distributed KN95 masks with a stamp that reads “Made in China” to members of the House of Representatives. The masks’ origin renewed concerns among lawmakers about America’s dependence on Chinese personal protective equipment (PPE).
The House physician had required legislators to upgrade their masks to N95 or KN95, instead of using cloth ones, due to increasing cases of COVID-19 omicron variant in the country, according to a Jan. 14 Fox News report.
But the masks delivered from the Office of the Attending Physician were manufactured in China, prompting pushback from some lawmakers.
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Jan. 11, requesting that masks and other PPE provided to Congress members are domestically produced.
“Members of Congress should not have to wear masks manufactured by unfriendly regimes. President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party pose a clear and real threat to our nation, one that must be taken seriously,” reads the letter.
“If we should have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic—it is imperative to break U.S. dependence on foreign medical supply chains,” added Wittman.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted U.S. reliance on Chinese medical supplies, and the dangers it entails. According to Rosemary Gibson, senior adviser at the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute, the United States depends on China for masks, scans, prescription drugs, and their ingredients, among other supplies.
Gibson, who is also co-author of “China RX: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine,” previously told The Epoch Times that this reliance poses a danger to national security, as it exposes the United States to a lack of availability of crucial medicines, such as antibiotics, as well as PPE.
Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, said that the fact “the masks we are mandated to wear in the U.S. Congress are made in China is just one example of our inabilities to protect and treat Americans without relying on adversaries,” according to Fox.
“These Chinese masks further highlight our need to divest away from the [Chinese Communist Party]. Our national security and our health depend on it,” he added
Because of these security concerns, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2022, contains a prohibition for the United States to acquire PPE, such as masks, from China, North-Korea, Russia and Iran. However, exceptions to this rule include buying equipment that cannot be procured “as and when needed” from other nations, as well as purchases that do not surpass $150,000.
Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C) underscored the irony of acquiring protective gear from China, where the CCP Virus, which causes COVID-19, originated.
“We are fighting a virus that came from China, yet the Speaker [Pelosi] is comfortable with publicly supporting a Chinese manufacturer, sending our taxpayer dollars overseas and further advertising our dependency on China … on the faces of Congress,” Murphy said, Fox reported.
At the height of the pandemic, many American companies rushed to produce N95 masks as well as other PPE. However, the Chinese regime has been attempting to drive the American PPE industry out of business through dumping, according to Anders Corr, China analyst and Epoch Times contributor. Dumping is an unfair trade practice banned by the WTO that involves selling goods abroad at less than fair value.
“It’s likely a purposeful strategy by Beijing, which wants to keep America dependent on China for life-saving medical equipment and pharmaceuticals,” wrote Corr. “If America is dependent upon China, China’s path to global hegemony will be easier.”