Foreign-funded firms in Xiamen resume operation
Gao Yang, an employee of the industrial center of Swiss power and automation group ABB in Xiamen, began workday at 8:00 a.m. as usual, but she did not take a commuter bus to the office. Instead, she works from home.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the State Council, or China's cabinet, extended this year's Lunar New Year public holiday an extra three days to Feb. 2, while factories in many Chinese provinces set the date of production resumption on Feb. 10.
In the city of Xiamen, a coastal business hub in eastern China's Fujian Province, lots of foreign-funded enterprises including ABB's Xiamen industrial center resumed business on Monday.
The center covers ABB's businesses in research and development, manufacturing, engineering, sales and services. It also covers the management of its supply chain in China.
Gao, who engages in marketing communication, continues to work at home since she started her telework on Feb. 3.
"It doesn't make a big difference for me to work from home or at the office. I suppose it is a flexible way to solve the problem during the epidemic control period," Gao said.
According to the company, 70 percent of the staff had returned to work. By the end of the month, over 95 percent of their employees will resume work.
The ABB Xiamen center has taken a variety of measures to prevent the transmission of the virus, such as establishing a workers' information registration platform, checking body temperatures every day and disinfecting work areas.
However, the epidemic outbreak has hampered transportation in some areas and led to delayed mechanic parts supply and increasing supply chain cost.
"We have launched an emergency plan to mobilize the global resources of ABB to reduce the influence to a minimum. We will also cooperate with our suppliers and partners to share the information and resources," said James Zhao, senior vice president of ABB China Ltd.
"In the battle against the virus, we further experienced the convenience of telework," he said. "ABB's digital solutions and technologies also show their prowess in various industries."
Yamaha Motor Solutions Co., Ltd. Xiamen, a Japanese-funded enterprise, had 85 percent of workforce resume operation. The company's business covers more than 10 countries and regions including China and Japan.
"In the emergency period, we strictly follow the prevention requirements and make full use of online work platform and video conferences to accomplish remote collaboration and reduce business trips and people-to-people contact," said Zhao Fujun, general manager of the company.
Zhao predicted that the epidemic would have a great influence on the company's business in the first quarter, "because we will lose some opportunities to negotiate with foreign clients face to face," he said.
Zhao said the company will seize the chance to improve its product portfolio, speed up efforts to establish a cost-effective automation research institute and launch services related to safe production and management.
Alu Rehab Xiamen Ltd, a Norway-funded company producing multifunctional wheelchairs, resumed operation on Monday despite challenges.
"First of all, we have been closed longer than expected, and we need to ship goods out to get money in, so we count each day. Secondly, we are depending on our suppliers getting back to work so we can get the parts needed," the company's general manager Jan Laegaard Broni said.
However, he is confident that once the situation is back to normal, they can make up for most of what they "lost" in this period.
In many other coastal cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Qingdao, foreign-funded enterprises are also gradually resuming their businesses, with difficulties and confidence.
According to a random sampling survey taken Tuesday by the Shanghai Association of Foreign Investment, among the 54 foreign-funded enterprises, over 50 percent had already resumed operations and more than 30 percent had partially resumed work.
The Ministry of Commerce issued a circular Monday urging local authorities to provide better services for foreign-funded enterprises amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
In Xiamen, the local government took many effective measures to help enterprises resume operation, such as the online job-hunting registration platform for both employers and employees and free charter buses to pick up workers in other cities in Fujian.
"The supporting policies have boosted the confidence of local enterprises," said James Zhao. "The coronavirus outbreak will not change the fundamentals or the growing trend of China's economy."