SCIO briefing on the provision of key medical supplies and daily necessities for epidemic prevention and control

A press conference was held on Monday morning to give details on the provision of key medical supplies and daily necessities for the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak. February 4, 2020

Southern Metropolis Daily:

My question is about the supply of materials such as face masks, rice, flour and cooking oil. Since the outbreak, and in the face of a shortage of supplies, some manufacturers have been involved in activities such as price gouging, hoarding and counterfeiting, which has caused fear-induced purchases and aggravated the demand-supply tension. What will the relevant departments do to stop these activities in order to guarantee market stability? Thanks.

Gan Lin:

Thanks for your question. Price maintenance and quality and safety supervision for supplies including face masks, rice, flour, cooking oil, vegetables and fruits during the battle to prevent and control the epidemic is a key task for departments involved in market regulation. The primary political task of these departments is to crack down on epidemic-related illegal activities in accordance with the law, safeguard market order and people's interests, and contribute to the victory in this battle.

In line with the planning and requirements set by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the State Administration for Market Regulation has adopted extraordinary measures to ensure the steady supply of medical necessities such as face masks as well as goods essential to people's livelihoods such as rice, flour, cooking oil, vegetables and fruits. This is in addition to their work to improve market regulation on a daily basis. By holding ourselves to the highest standards, implementing the strictest measures and deploying the most resources, we have strengthened price stability and the supervision of the quality of products. We have also improved monitoring, inspection, evidence-based investigation,law enforcement and increased the exposure of illegal activities. We have issued urgent notifications to all market regulation departments across the country, released public notices to ensure price maintenance for epidemic-related supplies and set guidelines for cracking down on price gouging to make it clearer for law enforcement. As of Feb. 1, 390,000 law enforcement officers across the country had been mobilized and 1,413 cases of price gouging had been handled. I would like to raise two examples. The first one involved a drugstore that was fined three million yuan by the market regulation department of Fengtai district, Beijing municipality for hiking the prices of N95 masks. The second one involved another drugstore that was slapped with a three million yuan fine for hiking the price of masks by the market regulation department of Jinnan district, Tianjin municipality. Both stores faced the maximum punishment according to law. Using an iron hand, we will crack down on anyone who hikes prices to profit from the epidemic. You can check out the details of other cases which have been released on the websites of the State and local administrations for market regulation.  

The price order in the market is now generally stable. In addition to price, the quality of goods is of great importance, especially that of epidemic prevention products like masks and general commodities necessary for people's livelihoods, including rice, flour, edible oils, vegetables and fruit. With this objective, the State Administration for Market Regulation, jointly with the Ministry of Public Security, the National Health Commission and other relevant departments, launched a joint law enforcement campaign yesterday to crack down on the illegal production of masks and other protective products. This was done to preserve the market order and safeguard the interests of the general public during the epidemic. We will make sure that all cases are investigated and dealt with strictly and rapidly in accordance with the law, and all wrongdoings are severely punished regardless of who is involved. Last night, the Zhejiang Provincial Administration for Market Regulation investigated and dealt with a counterfeit mask case involving illegal online sales of 9.12 million yuan. The case has since been transferred to the relevant public security departments. We will continue to strengthen quality supervision of masks and other epdeicmic prevention products.

The market regulation department is maintaining supplies and stabilizing prices, by doing everything possible to play to our functional advantages. We are also contributing to the production and supply of epidemic prevention products and daily supplies in numerous innovative ways. First, special measures have been taken. 

We are in charge of market admission, business registration and the issuing of production permits. As of now, masks are in short supply, so it is likely some new enterprises will offer extra production capacity. When that happens, our administration will prioritize these affairs and open fast-track channels for them. As long as they meet our requirements, we will fast-track the completion of their business licenses and production permits so the enterprises can start production immediately. We have already implemented this measure in Haidian district, Beijing. In addition, Shenzhen has accelerated domestic sales of commodities originally produced for export. The export-oriented masks, once meeting the medical criteria of the importing countries, can be reregistered by our market regulation department and marked with Chinese tags to be sold domestically. We have put in a lot of effort via multiple means to guarantee the supply of goods in shortage. 

Second, we have given full play to the positive role of joint social governance. The State Administration for Market Regulation has set up a communication platform between market entities and consumers and launched campaigns to guarantee prices, quality and supplies. We are advocating for enterprises to act with integrity and self-discipline. We need them to set an example to the whole society and pass on the torch of conscience, confidence, compassion and determination. By focusing on consumer demand, we are mobilizing medical device producers, decontamination companies and online and offline platforms to take part in our campaign. At present, 33 leading enterprises have made promises to guarantee prices, quality and supplies. The administration has established the secretariat of the campaign and launched a website to report on specific measures and achievements of the campaign involving market regulation departments of all levels, as well as production, operation and service businesses.

In the process of safeguarding the market order, we've got a lot of support and participation from the whole society, especially the media. In the future, we hope to welcome more public oversight on market entities and our law enforcers. Thank you.

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