As the world's economy looks forward to staging a full recovery after being savaged for nearly two years by the impact of COVID-19, perhaps a whole chapter in history will likely be devoted to the valiant, relentless but little recognized role played by China's manufacturers in ensuring such a recovery was possible in the first place, experts said.
China's manufacturers helped keep the global supply chains up and running against all odds during the difficult period, thereby averting what could have been a certain collapse of trade systems and processes due to the severe disruptions, they said.
The story of the never-say-die spirit and panache shown by China's manufacturers since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, they said, is the kind of stuff that legends are made of.
For one, China's manufacturers bore the heavy pressure of growing labor and shipping costs. For another, they had to cope with temporary power shortages in certain provinces. They also had to battle foreign exchange rate fluctuations.
That's not all. The surge in imported material prices made production of goods－stay-at-home products, electronic components, toilet rolls, toys, vaccines, medical gear, what have you－a difficult business proposition.
Yet, China's manufacturers soldiered on gamely, to serve not only their nation but the rest of the world under the grip of the pandemic. For instance, they raised their investments in research and development. Some redrew their sourcing and marketing strategies. Others focused on reskilling and rewarding their human resources. A few even managed to cut costs and adjust product prices to boost sales and exports. All this helped not only China but the rest of the world.
Jiangsu province-based Starlite Printers (Suzhou) Co Ltd symbolizes the fighting spirit, capacity for creative response and community-first outlook of China's manufacturers.
During the "golden week"－the National Day holiday from Oct 1 to 7－Starlite Printers, in an unprecedented move, tripled wages to meet the orders received against stiff deadlines.
It was able to do so thanks to its nimble response to the recent price drop in the shipping containers segment. The freight rate of a 40-foot (12.2-meter) container from Asia to western ports of the United States fell from over $20,000 per shipping box in early September to around $17,300 late last month.
The drop was propelled by seasonal factors and price adjustment of freight forwarders and shipping companies, said Xu Guoying, vice-president of Starlite Printers.
"Forced by high shipping costs, many export-oriented companies in China either reduced or suspended the export activities in the second and third quarters of this year," Xu said.
She also said Starlite Printers had been rushing to ship its products to its foreign clients between late September and early October, not only in the US but in Europe.