Chinese tech firms resilient despite coronavirus epidemic

GUANGZHOU (Xinhua) – Forced cancellation of offline events, stagnation of market sales, disruption of supply chains, and delayed return of tens of thousands of workers, the challenges posed by the ongoing coronavirus epidemic on Chinese tech firms are unprecedented.

Taking decisive and speedy measures with strong resolution to cope with the sudden changes in the production and market environment, Chinese tech firms have demonstrated their resilience in the face of the difficulties and uncertainties.

FACING CHALLENGES

Wearing a face mask and jeans, China’s tech giant Xiaomi’s founder and CEO Lei Jun stood in front of a large screen and launched the smartphone maker’s flagship product MI 10 via an online-only event on February 13.

It was an unexpected move and also marked the company’s first time to unveil its flagship smartphone online. The company had planned to hold an offline event attended by 3,000 people in Beijing, but was forced to cancel it due to the growing concern over the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

A visitor look at the surveillance cameras by China’s telecoms equipment giant Huawei in Shenzhen, China’s Guangdong province. PHOTO: AP

With a rapid response, Xiaomi managed to move the event from offline to online. Within one minute of the online event, the sales of the new product hit 200 million yuan (USD28.4 million).

“This is a special launch at a special time,” said Lei. “Our lives can be affected by the epidemic, but never be defeated.”

Like Xiaomi, many smartphone makers in China have switched to “crisis mode” soon after the coronavirus outbreak. OPPO, one of the world’s top five smartphone makers by sales volume last year, also planned to launch its new products online.

Founder and CEO of OPPO Chen Mingyong said although the outbreak resulted in the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) scheduled to be held yesterday in Barcelona of Spain, the company would unveil its 5G flagship smartphone Find X2 and its first smart watch product online in early March.

“Although our business has been affected by the outbreak in 2020, we will still gain more shares in markets that we have already entered, further explore the markets in Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium and Romania, and enter the Latin American market with a foothold in Mexico. We are confident of maintaining the steady operation of our global business,” said Chen.

Vivo, another major smartphone maker headquartered in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan, Guangdong Province, like OPPO, will unveil its 5G flagship phone iQOO online. After the outbreak, the firm initiated an emergency response and updated its employees on prevention measures in the fight against the virus. For customers who have ordered phones online, it disinfected the phones before delivering them by mail.

Telecom giant Huawei told Xinhua that it has provided 5G platforms and aided the construction of Huoshenshan and Leishenshan, two newly built major makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. As of Saturday, Huawei has resumed 90 per cent of its production capacity.