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Will not pay China for nearly eight million ‘substandard’ masks, Canadian PM Trudeau says

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau (Alex Guibord/Flickr)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his Government will not pay for nearly eight million substandard medical grade masks that were sourced from China.

These N95 masks were part of a consignment of 11 million, of which only one million were found to meet Canadian standards while another 1.6 million are still undergoing testing.

During a media briefing, Trudeau was categorical on the Federal Government refusing to pay for substandard personal protective equipment, as he said the country “will not be paying for masks that do not match the standards and quality we want for our front-line workers.”

This matter has further hampered relations between Canada and China, which also suffered after a senior executive of the Chinese company Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was taken into custody by authorities in Vancouver in late 2018, and China retaliated by arresting two Canadians including a diplomat.

Trudeau may have further irked China by openly thanking Taiwan for its “generous donation” of 500,000 masks to Canada. Canada is also part of a group of nations, led by the United States and Japan, seeking observer status for Taiwan at the World Health Organisation, a move strongly opposed by China, which does not recognise the existence of Taiwan as a separate nation.

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Trudeau also said discussions with respect to the defective masks were in progress with the Montreal-based supplier, which has not been identified. “We will not be burdened with masks that do not fit our stringent requirements,” he said.

This is not the first time that Canada has faced problems with such masks from China. Last month, a million such masks imported from China were found to be faulty.

Early last month, the country’s largest city, Toronto, returned nearly 62,000 masks, to a Chinese vendor. At that time, the Mayor’s office noted in a statement, “After reports of ripping and tearing, further inspection of the masks determined that the masks ordered did not meet the city’s standard and specifications. The masks are being returned, and the vendor has committed to a full refund.”

Canadian officials have privately told the media in the country that Chinese vendors, backed by Beijing, have indulged in price gouging in a “competitive market” for such protective equipment, inflating the prices to five times the rate prior to the pandemic.

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© 2020 the Hindustan Times