Chinese tech giant Huawei has partnered with other companies to provide 20,000 protective masks and 120,000 pairs of gloves to Lithuania to help the largest Baltic country combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The aid was donated this month by both Huawei and Bite, a major Lithuanian communications company, and was transported free of charge by KlasJet, a charter airline that is part of Lithuanian-owned Avia Solutions Group. “The shipment was organised in a record-short time in collaboration with our partners in Lithuania and China … It is crucial as Lithuanian medics are short so far of protective single-use gloves and masks. The Lithuanian health ministry will distribute the aid to the most needed,” Mindaugas Plukys, a Huawei spokesman in the Baltics, said. Similar aid was also being offered to neighbouring Latvia and Estonia, he said. The quantity of masks is relatively small for Lithuania, a country of 2.8 million people. However the donation shows how a major Chinese tech business and its connections can source much needed protective gear amid a global mask shortage. Huawei is one of several technology giants helping fight the pandemic including Facebook, Microsoft and Apple which said it would donate “millions” of masks to the United States and Europe. Elsewhere, Huawei has donated medical supplies and video conferencing equipment, just as China ramps up its efforts to help other nations . Huawei has come under scrutiny in Europe, including United States ally Lithuania, which has expressed concern about the security of Huawei gear in a future 5G network. Lithuania’s Ministry of Transport and Communications said Huawei had expressed interest in its 5G network. The defence ministry said it was “reviewing” all proposals. Why China’s ‘mask diplomacy’ is raising concern in the West Huawei has repeatedly denied US allegations that is closely linked to Beijing and its equipment could be used by China to spy. In February, Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service labelled China a threat to its national security. Last year, Lithuania’s intelligence agency added a China section to its annual national threat assessment report, saying that Chinese intelligence services had expanded their interest in the country. At the time, the Chinese embassy in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, rejected the “unfounded” claims. Still, the Huawei aid package does come at a critical moment in this global health crisis. Almost 32,000 deaths have been recorded since the virus was first detected in China in December. More than 663,000 declared cases have been registered in 175 countries and territories. “It is infecting the entire world,” said Haonan Wang, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce (CCC). “Our situation is now more stable and turning for the better, although we suffered a lot of pain in late January and February. It feels good that we can help others who are in need for aid now,” Wang said, referring to mainland China where 3,300 have died from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Netherlands recalls 600,000 face masks from China due to low quality Mainland China was the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak before Europe became the new epicentre where the death toll has soared, particularly in hard-hit Italy and Spain. The three Baltic states are facing an exponential rise of new coronavirus cases. As of Sunday, there were 679 confirmed coronavirus cases in Estonia, 347 in Latvia and 437 cases in Lithuania. The Chinese embassy in Lithuania called the action of Huawei and Bite a “great example” of international solidarity. “The Chinese embassy encourages more Chinese business companies, including the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania, to continue their efforts in supporting the prevention and control of Covid-19 in Lithuania and make further contributions,” said Sun Yanjing, from the embassy’s political section. Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has also pledged to donate emergency supplies such as face masks and testing kits to Africa, Latin American countries and some of Asia’s poorest nations . The Jack Ma Foundation this month said it had sourced and prepared 500,000 testing kits and 1 million face masks to be donated to the United States , which the World Health Organisation warned could become the new coronavirus epicentre. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post . China has also sent medical teams to help other countries hit hard by the virus. Last month, Beijing sent medical workers to Iran, the worst-affected country in the Middle East, along with a shipment of supplies. It has also sent a team to Cambodia. Lithuanian businesses meanwhile are importing more protective masks from China. Eugenijus Mikalauskas, CEO of Plastic Pack, a Lithuanian plastic product supplier, said they were arranging air delivery of several hundred thousand masks from China. Once delivered, the masks would be available in pharmacies for about 50 euro cents and respirators for € 4- € 5, he said. The Lithuanian government is buying almost 1.8 million respirators and 5.7 million disposable masks from China, with the shipment expected to arrive within weeks. “This is the largest quantity Lithuania has ever had … this quantity will be enough to also provide respirators to health workers who are not dealing directly with infected or suspected patients,” Lithuania’s Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said. The contract with China also includes 810,000 safety glasses, 1.8 million disposable caps, 1.8 million disposable gowns, 1 million disposable overalls, 15 million disposable gloves, and 3.6 million disposable shoe covers.