Until about the third week of January, only a few pharmaceutical executives, drug-safety inspectors and dogged China hawks cared that a large share of the world’s supply of antibiotics depends on a handful of Chinese factories.
These include a cluster in Inner Mongolia, a northern province of windswept deserts, grasslands and unlovely industrial towns. Then came the covid-19 outbreak, and quarantine controls that locked down factories, ports and whole cities across China.
Chinese leaders insist that they are well on the way to conquering the virus, allowing them to reopen “leading enterprises and key links with important influence” in global supply chains. A victory over the novel coronavirus will once again demonstrate “the notable advantages of leadership by the Communist Party of China”, President Xi Jinping told 170,000 officials by video-conference on February 23rd. But even if all those boasts come true, foreign governments and business bosses will not quickly forget a frightening lesson: for some vital products, they depend on one country.
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Source: The Economist
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