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China vows severe punishment on crimes related to personal protective equipment

Updated: Mar 12,2020 08:21 PM    Xinhua

BEIJING — China's market regulators pledged on March 12 to continue to severely punish illegal production and sales of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak.

A joint law enforcement operation by government agencies including the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) was launched in early February, with over 80 million defective face masks and 370,000 other faulty PPE items seized, SAMR official Yang Hongcan told a press conference on March 12.

Market regulators investigated and dealt with 27,000 cases of illegal production and sales of PPE, Yang said. The campaign saw a total fine of 230 million yuan (about $33 million), with 598 of the cases transferred to the police for further investigation and punishment.

Yang said the market watchdog will work more closely with the police in identifying clues and penalties.

China has also been resolute in fighting the price-gouging of melt-blown nonwoven fabric, an essential raw material for producing face masks, said SAMR official Chen Zhijiang at the press conference.

One of the five typical cases of this kind of violation saw a spike from 20,000 yuan per tonne to 450,000 yuan per tonne, Chen said.

"Market regulators will continue to deal a swift and strong blow to such illegal behavior, and transfer criminal violation cases to the police," he said.