China isn't deliberately holding up shipments of masks, supplies, ambassador says

China isn't deliberately holding up shipments of masks, supplies, ambassador says
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The U.S. ambassador to China said Wednesday that Beijing isn’t deliberately holding up shipments of masks and medical supplies, adding that the U.S. would not have received 1,200 tons of the products without the nation's help.

Ambassador Terry Branstad suggested the delay in supplies from China may be attributed to Beijing's stronger enforcement of quality standards after complaints about earlier shipments, The Associated Press reported

“Now with domestic Chinese demand for personal protective equipment receding to more normal levels, our mission’s most urgent priority is to help get [personal protective equipment] and medical equipment to the United States as quickly as possible,” Branstad told reporters.

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Branstad also said the U.S. should address its concerns about China mishandling the pandemic after it is under control around the world, saying, “Let’s focus now on saving lives and helping people.” 

China began sending supplies to the U.S. after domestic demand decreased in recent weeks. The country documented 46 new virus cases Wednesday, with 36 coming from overseas, according to the AP.

The ambassador also said a March 27 call between President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE and Chinese President Xi Jinping was “really helpful.”

“I am hopeful that because of the collaboration and work on fighting the virus, and also of course the phase one of the trade agreement, that there will be a better relationship going forward,” he said, according to the AP.

Branstad in the past has criticized Chinese officials, including foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, for spreading a conspiracy theory in a March 12 tweet that the U.S. military brought the coronavirus to China.

The AP reported Wednesday that China delayed its public response to the virus for six days after determining it was likely developing into a pandemic, according to documents obtained by the news service. China has denied these allegations, saying it has been transparent with accurate and timely information.