China says price hike in anti-COVID medical supplies to India due to import of raw materials

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Beijing, May 14 (PTI) China on Friday said the prices of some of the COVID-19 medical supplies like oxygen concentrators being procured by Indian companies from Chinese manufacturers have gone up as they had to import raw materials to meet the excess demand from India.

Responding to a question from the official media here on India's Consul General in Hong Kong Priyanka Chauhan’s recent remarks calling on China to stop surging prices of medical supplies to India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing that China has been encouraging its companies to meet India’s procurement to meet the country's surge in coronavirus cases.

Soaring prices of medical supplies like oxygen concentrators and disruption of cargo flights to India are slowing arrivals of medical goods, Chauhan said this week.

On price increases, especially of the oxygen concentrators, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that the feedback from the Chinese manufacturers suggests that they had to import raw materials to meet the excess demand from India.

“Just taking oxygen concentrators as an example, the demand in India has soared by several times in just a short period of time and the raw materials are also in shortage,” Hua said.

The Indian side has also raised their demand through different channels, which has led to excessive demand in the market and driven up prices because the Chinese manufacturers have to import some of the raw materials from other countries, she said.

About Chauhan’s call for increasing cargo flights, Hua did not give a direct reply but expressed Beijing’s commitment to keep the industrial supply chains open. “China is committed to smooth global industrial and supply chains and hopes that all parties can work together to ensure stability of global industrial and supply chains instead of disrupting the openness and stability of these chains for political purposes,” she said.

“We have faced similar problems before. We hope all parties can work together to ensure openness and stability of the supply chains,” Hua said.

The cargo flight disruptions were amplified by the decision by Sichuan Airlines to suspend all its 11 cargo flights for 15 days from April 26, citing the coronavirus the situation in India.

Though the state-run airline said it is reviewing its plans to restore the flights, it is yet to do so.

According to freight forwarders in Shanghai, Sichuan Airlines has announced plans to restore three of its freight flights from Chongqing and Xian to Delhi from May 17.

“We are concerned about the epidemic situation in India and we feel for what the Indian people are going through. China is one of the first countries to offer help and support help to India,” Hua said.

She said the Chinese government has been guiding and encouraging the Chinese companies to facilitate India’s procuring epidemic prevention materials.

“Many Chinese companies and NGOs are providing help to India in their own ways. To my knowledge, the relevant Chinese authorities have provided assistance in customs clearance and transport for India to bring materials from China to India,” Hua said.

Giving details of the materials procured by India recently, she said in April, China exported to India over 26,000 ventilators and Oxygen concentrators, over 15,000 monitors and nearly 3,800 tonnes of medicine materials and drugs.

Chinese companies have received orders from India for more than 70,000 oxygen concentrators and are stepping up their production for early delivery, she said.

In addition, India has a strong demand for raw and auxiliary materials for vaccine production. Since the beginning of this year Chinese companies have provided more than 10 tonnes of raw and auxiliary materials to India and more than 20 tonnes are expected to be delivered in May and June, the foreign ministry spokesperson said. PTI KJV RUP AKJ AKJ