China exported more than 220 billion face masks last year, the commerce ministry said Friday, the equivalent of nearly 40 per person outside China as demand for protective gear skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Shifting billions of dollars’ worth of the coverings has become an important driver of China’s exports after COVID-19 virtually halted economic activity in the earlier part of 2020 and ravaged growth.
On Friday, vice-minister for commerce Qian Keming told reporters that in addition to masks, China exported 2.3 billion pieces of protective gear and one billion test kits last year, “making an important contribution to the global fight against the epidemic”.
The mask shipments alone were worth 340 billion yuan ($52.6 billion), a customs official said earlier this month.
“(The volume) is equivalent to providing nearly 40 masks to each person in the world outside China,” said customs spokesman Li Kuiwen.
China, where COVID-19 first emerged in late 2019, was also the first country to bounce back after imposing strict lockdowns and virus control measures.
It is expected to be the only major world economy to clock positive 2020 growth.
But on Friday, commerce ministry official Chu Shijia added that China still faced a “severe and complex” environment in foreign trade and investment this year.
Four COVID-19 patients killed in Romanian hospital fireAt least four people died Friday after a fire broke out in Romania's main hospital treating COVID-19 patients, officials told AFP.Three patients were ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: China warns US against ‘politicizing’ WHO COVID-19 origins probeWHO experts probing the origins of the coronavirus must be allowed to work free from “political interference”, Beijing said Thursday, in a rebuke to ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: China’s Sinovac vaccine faces driver shortage, says distributorA Chinese distributor of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine said on Thursday it is facing a shortage of drivers, as the worst wave of new infections in almost ... Coronavirus