Businessman Jack Ma, Asia’s richest man, announced on Thursday he would donate 500,000 test kits for the Wuhan coronavirus and 1 million masks to the U.S. to help fight the outbreak.
“Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus. We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic!” Ma said in a statement.
Ma is the co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba. He has also made donations through the Alibaba Foundation and Jack Ma Foundation to other countries hit by the outbreak, including Italy, Iran, Korea, Japan and Spain.
Ma was revealed in 2018 to be a member of the Chinese Communist Party. The businessman has defended Premier Xi Jinping’s attitude toward foreign firms who want to gain a foothold in China. In an interview with the BBC that same year, Ma said of international companies, “if they come here they have to say OK, I follow the Chinese rules and laws.”
“The crisis presents a huge challenge to all humankind in a globalized world. The pandemic we face today can no longer be resolved by any individual country,” Ma said. “Rather, we need to combat the virus by working hand-in-hand. At this moment, we can’t beat this virus unless we eliminate boundaries to resources and share our know-how and hard-earned lessons.”
The U.S. is facing a shortage of coronavirus diagnostic tests, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed frustration with federal agencies for not preparing enough tests.
“We have a serious deficiency in being prepared for testing,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) said on Thursday. “We not only need a better system for later. We need a better system for now, and we’re going to focus on that as rapidly as we can.”