Working Paper

Mask Wars: China's Exports of Medical Goods in Times of COVID-19

Date Published

Jun 8, 2021


Andreas Fuchs, Lennart Kaplan, Krisztina Kis-Katos, Sebastian S. Schmidt, Felix Turbanisch, Feicheng Wang



Fuchs, A., Kaplan, L., Kis-Katos, K., Schmidt, S., Turbanisch, F., and Wang, F. (2021). Mask Wars: China's Exports of Medical Goods in Times of COVID-19. AidData Working Paper #108. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.


The COVID-19 outbreak has cut China's supply of and raised the world's demand for face masks, disinfectants, ventilators, and other critical medical goods. This article studies the political and economic factors that facilitated access to Chinese medical equipment during the first two months of the global pandemic. Regression results show that both political and economic ties with Chinese provinces increased Chinese exports of critical medical goods to partner countries. Friendly political relations, such as local diplomatic missions and sister linkages, appear to work as a substitute for pre-existing economic ties at the provincial level. These findings imply that countries are well advised to diversify their sources or develop closer relations with China's provinces to secure better medical equipment access in crises.

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Andreas Fuchs

Andreas Fuchs

Professor of Development Economics at the University of Goettingen

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