Chinese company's answer to economic impacts of coronavirus: R&D
Updated 04:19, 10-Apr-2020
He Weiwei

As global economies struggle to deal with the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, one company in China is taking an approach that the chairperson says is an "immunity" to failure.

CGTN's He Weiwei talked to Dong Mingzhu, the chairperson of Gree, a well-known home appliance maker in China. Dong is also a deputy in China's National People's Congress.

Gree lost over 10 billion RMB in the first quarter of 2020.

But Dong says she's taking a wholistic approach.

Let's not think we're done for because of a temporary epidemic, right? In fact, we should look at the whole market, now people have more demand for health related products," Dong said.

"What can we do to meet the needs of consumers? We should speed up innovation."

That's why despite the losses, the company invested an additional 1 billion yuan in research and development.

The return on investment won't come over night, but in the long run, she calls it the company's “immunity” against potential risks.

"Just like a human being, if they have a good immune system, they can eventually recover from the coronavirus," she said. 

"It's the same for a company. What would happen if another epidemic breaks out in the future? Will we be able to counter it? That's the issue we should think about."

To improve their "immunity" Dong said she believes in investing in talents, innovation, and technology.

The company quickly started producing supplies like masks and goggles, and even managed to develop air purifiers that aim to filter the air from viruses such as COVID-19.

But Dong is not only thinking about her own company, but also the bigger picture.

As a deputy of China's National People's Congress, Dong believes big companies like hers should help the small and medium-sized ones.

"We have many downstream and upstream partner suppliers, quite a few are small ones. They need our orders, and we need their components for production," Dong said. "So it's about helping each other. We have to work together, so I always say large companies need to shoulder more social responsibility than smaller ones."

Check out The China Report, our new weekly newsletter. Subscribe here!