The United States has grown increasingly dependent on Chinese manufacturers, and thus the Chinese government, for a wide variety of goods. From automobiles to computer parts, medical masks to ventilators, China has proven adept at supplying the United States with affordable products. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has shown that the government in Beijing is unwilling to uphold agreements when its own interests are threatened. Masks used by first responders and medical professionals to protect themselves from pathogens were blocked from export by China, while critical chemicals used in COVID-19 tests were used as leverage by Chinese officials in a bid to strong-arm the United States.
What It Means:
The Chinese government has an immense amount of sway over the success of US agencies combating the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 13, 2020, an article appeared on Xinhua, the official state-run press agency, noting that if the Chinese government limited or prevented the export of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, the United States would be “plunged into the mighty sea of Coronavirus.” Policymakers in Washington have finally taken note of the vulnerability, with several representatives and senators vowing to address the issue head-on in order to preserve American freedom of action.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.