China’s workers are gradually heading back to work, nearly two months after the Covid-19 pandemic put the world’s largest exporter of goods at a standstill.
Consumer electronics, from smartphones to laptops to flat screen televisions, was perhaps the first industry to feel the direct impact of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. China, where the virus originated, is the world’s largest producer and exporter of consumer electronics. The virus spread from the city of Wuhan into high-tech hubs like Shenzhen—home to Huawei, Tencent, and ZTE—and the manufacturing zone of Dongguan, where 75% of the city’s residents are migrant workers who work in factories churning out robots and other automated equipment.
But this month, Foxconn, the company that assembles the world’s iPhones, resumed work at its factories in Vietnam and mainland China. The company’s founder, Terry Gou Tai-ming, told reporters that the return had “exceeded our expectations and imagination,” and that supplies had returned to normal. Apple’s retail stores in China are open again for business. Samsung’s smartphone factory in Gumi, South Korea—temporarily shut down after workers tested positive for the coronavirus—has since re-opened.