Two hundred thousand medical face masks ordered by the city of Berlin were confiscated by US officials in Bangkok, the German capital’s state interior minister said on Friday, accusing the United States of “modern piracy.”
The FFP-2 respirators, which protect the wearer against infection, had been intended for use by Berlin police officers, state minister Andreas Geisel said.
The state of Berlin had ordered them from a US company and paid, he added.
According to the Tagesspiegel newspaper, the masks had been manufactured in China.
Geisel lashed out at the US in a statement, saying, “We view this as an act of modern piracy.”
“This is not how you treat trans-Atlantic partners. Even in times of global crisis, we should not be ruled by Wild West methods,” he said, calling on Germany’s federal government to urge Washington to adhere to international rules.
Berlin is not the only region to have complained about such behaviour.
French politicians recently accused the US of buying up supplies of protective masks in China that had been intended for France.
In addition, Washington has forced US conglomerate 3M by law to supply the United States with as many type-N95 respirator masks as possible, such as those used in hospitals. The group also manufactures in China.