China's embassy in the Netherlands said on Monday that it was closely following a Dutch investigation into reportedly defective masks imported from China and called for the issue not to be politicised.
Xu Hong, China's ambassador to the Netherlands, made the comment after Dutch officials recalled more than 600,000 face masks which were found to be unsuitable for intensive care medical staff.
"The embassy paid high attention to the March 28 news about the 'defective' masks that Dutch government purchased from China, and contacted the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health in the first time to verify the information," Xu said, according to a statement published on the embassy's website.
Xu said he had spoken by telephone with the Dutch Minister for Medical Care and Sport Martin, van Rijn, on Sunday about the issues and said "if necessary" China would help the Dutch investigation into the quality of the masks.
According to the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the masks did not fit well and the filters did not function properly. It was not immediately clear whether the batch in question was given to the Netherlands as a donation or had arrived through a commercial transaction.
"The Netherlands is still looking into the situation, and if there is any further information, it will inform the Chinese side in the first time," Xu said.
China has ramped up medical assistance abroad where the novel coronavirus pandemic has shown no signs of easing, but China's efforts have run into rising concerns about the poor quality protective gear and test equipment it offered.
Xu also rejected concerns that China had a political agenda accompanying its medical support. He called for its assistance in not to be politicised.
"The reason why China supports the Netherlands and other countries to fight the pandemic is very simple: we are trying to save lives," Xu said.
"There is no 'geopolitical consideration' as a few claimed. It is normal if some problems arise during the cooperation. These problems can be solved in an objective manner, but should not be politicised."
It is not the first time European countries have had problems with coronavirus-related medical equipment manufactured in China.
The Spanish government said on Thursday that the Covid-19 rapid test kits it bought from Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology via a Spanish supply company had an accuracy rate of only 30 per cent. The Spanish government withdrew 58,000 test kits.
The company said it would replace the test kits sent to Spain.
On Thursday, the Chinese embassy in Spain said on Twitter that the Bioeasy test kits had not been approved by China's National Medical Products Administration and were not included in the medical supplies sent by the Chinese government to Spain.
Separately, the Philippines' health department on Sunday apologised for comments it had made a day earlier that two batches of coronavirus test kits provided by China were substandard, and acknowledged that the quality of the test kits did meet global standards.
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