Accused Of ‘Piracy’, U.S. Denies Diverting Masks Bound For Germany

A face mask shipment, originally bound for Berlin, has been diverted at an airport in Bangkok. Berlin State’s Secretary of Interior, Andreas Geisel, stated that 200,000 masks, originally ordered by, and bound for Germany had been “confiscated” in an airport in Bangkok. Mr. Geisel went on to state that the masks had been diverted from Bangkok to the United States, in what he has called, an “act of modern piracy.” Officials from the U.S. Embassy in Thailand said, following Geisel’s statement, that they have no idea how this could have happened. 

Masks are a dire need in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, as nations are scrambling to find enough masks for their citizens. According to a tally conducted by Reuters, there were more than 1.25 million cases of coronavirus globally, and as of Monday morning, there were 68,400 deaths across 211 countries and territories. Justly, the German government is distressed by the news that the much needed masks had been diverted. Although press releases were given by United States officials, Thai authorities were unavailable to be contacted on Monday, as the day was a Thai public holiday. 

The spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, Jillian Bonnardeaux, made the following statement to Reuters concerning the mask reroute, “The United States Government did not take any action to divert any 3M supplies that were destined to Germany nor did we have any knowledge of such a shipment.” Ms. Bonnardeaux continued to state that, on behalf of the United States, “We remain concerned about pervasive attempts to divide international efforts through unsourced, unattributed disinformation campaigns.” From Europe to South America, United States’ allies have raised the concern regarding the U.S.’s “Wild West” tactics. Numerous governments have complained that the United States employs unjust maneuvers and that Washington has outbid or blocked shipments of medical supplies, keeping supplies from ever reaching their final destinations. This recent case comes as no surprise to those familiar with such tactics, but is, nevertheless, unethical.

Even though Germany’s Geisel said on Friday that the order of masks had been “confiscated” in Bangkok, his office revoked the statement the following day. Furthermore, Geisel’s office stated it was still attempting to iron out the circumstances that took place, in which masks ordered from a German wholesaler, and not from U.S. manufacturer 3M [NYSE: MMM-N], had been diverted. Reuters was informed by a spokesperson for 3M that the company had no evidence that its products had been seized. On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump stated that “there has been no act of piracy’’ regarding the seizing of the masks. 

This is a terrifying time in our history, and a difficult era in which to lead a nation as large as Germany. The German government, as it seems, has every right to be furious about supposed “Wild West” tactics employed by the United States government. Current evidence provides us no other explanation as to how masks created by a German manufacturer, and shipped to Germany, have ended up in the United States.

Furthermore, this concerning situation brings up another question. If the masks were made by a German manufacturer, but not in Germany, then where were they made? If the answer is Thailand, or perhaps somewhere else in Southeast Asia, then it might be necessary to question whether those workers have enough access to masks, or whether they were given protection in the plant where they manufactured these masks for German -or American- use.