Chinese firms warn of delay in oxygen shipments to India as orders piled up
Companies warn delay in oxygen shipments as orders piled up
Published: Apr 26, 2021 09:55 PM
Workers spray disinfectant on a street in Kolkata, India, on April 23, 2021. India's daily COVID-19 new cases reached 332,730 and new deaths hit 2,263 during the past 24 hours, both hitting historic high, the government health ministry said Friday.Photo:Xinhua

Workers spray disinfectant on a street in Kolkata, India, on April 23, 2021. India's daily COVID-19 new cases reached 332,730 and new deaths hit 2,263 during the past 24 hours, both hitting historic high, the government health ministry said Friday.Photo:Xinhua

Chinese exporters of personal protective equipment (PPE) are seeing surging demand from India that has their factories working around the clock, as the South Asian country reels from shortages of medical oxygen and other epidemic-related devices amid a devastating second wave of the coronavirus. 

However, even as they are ramping up production, many manufacturers told the Global Times that Indian customers may have to wait as long as 30 days, as orders from other countries, such as the US, have already piled up. Some firms are also worried about being unfairly slandered by Indian media outlets and delayed payments.

The rising demands came as shortage of medical oxygen has become even more urgent over the past several days as major hospitals in New Delhi have begged for more supplies to save COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe. 

In order to ease the oxygen supply shortage at hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, the Indian government on Sunday restricted the use of liquid oxygen to only medical use, according to a report from Hindustan Times on Monday.

The order also applies to the existing stock of liquid oxygen with manufacturing units, the report said, adding that the government in its order has clarified that "no industry will be exempt from this order."

Given the dire situation in India, Chinese firms are also sending as more supplies as they can. 

 "We exported more than 2,000 units of oxygen generators and monitors to India last month and are mobilizing another 2,000 devices, double the demand at the same time last year," Cao Jianbiao, president of Shenzhen Huateng Biomedical Electronics Co, told the Global Times on Monday.

The Shenzhen-based firm specializes in large oxygen generators used in hospitals, which can meet the needs of hundreds or even thousands of patients at once.

Jiangsu Yuyue Medical Equipment & Supply Co, another PPE maker, is also getting more inquiries from India - mostly for oxygen generators - and demand is indeed "very large," a customer service staffer at the company told the Global Times on Monday.

Orders for ventilators from India are also increasing, Beijing Aeonmed Co told the Global Times on Monday, although it did not disclose the exact number of orders.

MGI Technology, a subsidiary of Chinese genetics firm BGI Group, has provided 125 automated platforms that could boost the capacity for larger-scale COVID-19 testing to states in India through The Indian Council of Medical Research, the firm told the Global Times on Monday.

So far, transportation between China and India is running smoothly, Cai Tianzhi, deputy secretary-general of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products, told the Global Times on Monday.

Chinese companies' abilities were tested last year when export demand was huge, including from India, Cai said, adding that medical equipment is being sent to India by both sea and air.

Nevertheless, as demand from India is coming in all at once, Chinese suppliers said that Indian customers may have to wait for a while, although they do understand the urgency. 

A manager at a Zhejiang-based medical oxygen device producer told the Global Times on Monday that although demand from India is huge, the bulk of exports are going to the US and it will be at least one month before orders to India can be shipped.

An oxygen bottlemaker in Linyi, East China's Shandong Province said that it may take 40 days or so for orders to be delivered.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday that China has expressed its willingness several times to provide support and help according to India's needs, and China was in communication with India on this.

On Monday, 800 oxygen concentrators were airlifted from China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Delhi and 10,000 more in a week, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka tweeted on Monday. It also wrote that "China is keeping in touch with India regarding urgent needs."

Demand for oxygen generators from China's domestic market and other countries - not just India - is also huge, Cao said. The company has been working overtime to fill piled up orders and it will also expand production capacity by 10 times, he said.

Also, some manufacturers have expressed worries of being "slandered" even after all their efforts due to rising anti-China sentiment pushed by some Indian politicians and media outlets.

"Since last year, we've been taking a cautious attitude in dealing with orders from Indian customers," an export agency employee surnamed Zhang told the Global Times on Monday.

 "We saw some Indian media find fault with the quality of made-in-China medical supplies without any solid evidence," Zhang said, adding that some had also delayed payment without any reasons. 

"We will do businesses as usual, but we're also worried that the same situation could happen again," Zhang said, adding that the company would rather not make money if the "slander scene" happens again.

India coronavirus Photo:VCG

India coronavirus Photo:VCG

blog comments powered by Disqus