Peter Navarro: China Is Hoarding Masks, Equipment During Pandemic

April 19, 2020 Updated: April 19, 2020

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has hoarded personal protective equipment (PPE) and is profiting from the pandemic.

“First of all, the virus was spawned in China. Second of all, they hid the virus behind the shield of the World Health Organization (WHO). The third thing they did was basically hoard personal protective equipment and now they’re profiteering from it,” Navarro said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.

U.S. exports of surgical masks, ventilators, and other medical equipment to China increased dramatically in January and February, according to a USA Today report. During that time, CCP officials were attempting to grapple with an outbreak centered in Wuhan, Hubei Province.

“This was a time where that virus could have been contained in Wuhan,” Navarro told Fox. “Instead, 5 million Chinese people went out from Wuhan and propagated the virus around the world.”

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Medical staff wear protective clothing to protect against a CCP virus patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 25, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The CCP, he said, swayed the WHO in an attempt to cover up the virus from the rest of the world. At the same time, China became a net importer of PPE despite being the largest producer of PPE in the world, he said.

“During that period of time, that six-week interval when they were hiding this virus from the world, China went from a net exporter of personal protective equipment, they are the largest producer of that in the world, to a large net importer,” Navarro said. “They basically went around and vacuumed up virtually all of the PPE around the world, including a lot from this country, which was for humanitarian reasons sharing our PPE with them, and what that did was leave people in New York, Milan, and everywhere in-between defenseless when it came time to have that PPE.”

Masks made in China that are normally sold for 50 cents are now “being sold to hospitals here in America for as much as $8,” Navarro said.

“China is sitting on that hoard of PPE where it cornered the market and is profiteering,” he added.

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A worker producing protective masks at a factory in Handan city, Hebei province, China, on Feb. 28, 2020. (Str/AFP via Getty Images)

Navarro’s Sunday remarks follow a pattern of comments that were made by senior administration officials, including President Donald Trump himself, suggesting that the Chinese regime has covered up the scope of the outbreak.

“Was it a mistake that got out of control? Or was it done deliberately? In either event, they should have let us go in,” Trump said of China during a Saturday press briefing. “We asked to go in very early and they would not let us in,” he added.

At the onset of the outbreak, either the CCP or WHO knew about human-to-human transmission of the CCP virus, a type of novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, in Wuhan before Chinese regime officials misled the world months ago when reporting that only animal-to-human transmission was occurring, said White House task force member Dr. Deborah Birx last week.

“I think once this is over, we’ll be able to look back and see, ‘Did China and the WHO say and do everything to alert the rest of the world to the nuances of this virus’—because when it first explodes someone had to have known that there was human-to-human transmission,” Birx told ABC’s “The View.”

The United States isn’t the only country questioning the CCP’s response and transparency.

UK foreign secretary and acting Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the UK’s relationship won’t be “business as usual” once the pandemic subsides.