The Great Risk: China and Its Relationship with Medical Supplies

Since the end of World War II, the developed (and by extension the developing world) has been entangled into a debate around globalisation and global supply chains. Such a discussion has now reached its apex and now could be forming its own realignment due to the coronavirus crisis. The start of this realignment emerged with the US-China trade war under the Trump Administration, this global pandemic exacerbating such things. Since the global spread of the coronavirus from China, it has opened many different questions regarding globalisation, concomitantly strengthening the arguments against it.

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a major supply problem that has been associated with China and its economic lockdown. This has resulted in a disruption of the global structure that is reliant on China’s manufacturing of goods, exposing the comparative advantage the Sino nation has in world trade. The pandemic has also led to the starvation of many different international businesses which produced essential parts and equipment, vital for other nations’ internal security.

This became quickly very relevant regarding the sudden need for basic medical equipment and supplies, placing the rest of the world (and by extension its politicians and decision-makers) into a difficult position. Those nations that became reliant on China’s status as a manufacturing powerhouse are now facing a crisis with its national health policies and its own internal security arrangements. 

With most of the world’s developed countries reliant on China to amount for their medical supplies (such as personal protective equipment (PPE)), the crisis has increased the ongoing debate into globalisation and nations’ interdependence of foreign materials. If China is going to continue to hold a major stake in the medical supply industry, the coronavirus outbreak could possibly act as a ‘wake-up call’ for policymakers around the world regarding their positions on Chinese manufacturing’s large outputs and services. The current global pandemic may therefore have unintentionally revitalised the key argument for sovereignty and security, encouraging greater emphasis on self-sufficiency in vital areas of a nation’s economy, medical supplies at the very least.

Overall, the coronavirus outbreak has exacerbated key structural flaws within the globalised worldview, with a sound foundation in showing the latter to be a geopolitical disaster. It is certain that it will cause a long process of revision for world leaders and policymakers on how to initiate trade and manufacturing across the global economy.

Featured image credit: “MTA Deploys PPE Vending Machines Across Subway System” by MTAPhotos is licensed under CC BY 2.0