Taiwan businesses join forces in Xiamen to fight pandemic

Lihpao Biotechnology is a Taiwan-invested firm specializing in gene sequencing. (Courtesy of Lihpao Biotechnology)

XIAMEN (China Daily/ANN) — When the novel coronavirus broke out in early 2020, Lee Ming-hui knew he had to promptly swing into action and join the fight.

“We signed up instantly after learning Xiamen was inviting third-party nucleic acid testing facilities,” said Lee, the assistant to the president of Xiamen-based Lihpao Biotechnology Co., a Taiwan-invested firm specializing in gene sequencing.

In late February, Lihpao not only became one of the seven third-party testing facilities approved by the local health authority to conduct COVID-19 tests but also was the only Taiwan-funded firm. So far, it has completed over 55,000 tests.

“Testing is what we are good at and what we can contribute,” Lee said.

Lihpao is not alone. About 5,700 Taiwan-invested businesses in Xiamen have been doing their part in battling the virus over the past months.

The hospitality sector is essential to the economy of Xiamen, a popular tourist destination famous for its scenic island and bohemian art communities. However, the sector bore the brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The occupancy rate dropped from the usual 90 percent to around 30 percent when we reopened in early March, and the earnings contracted nearly 60 percent,” said Su Fei-chun, general manager of Discover Hotel Management Limited in Xiamen.

Thanks to its proximity to the airport and adequate isolation and hygiene facilities, the hotel began to serve as an isolation center for passengers arriving in Xiamen from outside the mainland starting from April. More than 1,600 passengers have lived in the hotel for medical observation.

Su was considerate toward those staying in isolation. Apart from conducting routine disinfection, her hotel also prepared birthday cakes and cards for those celebrating their birthdays. Besides, psychological counseling services were arranged to alleviate the mental stress of those in isolation.

“Xiamen is like my home, and I’m doing this because we are all one family,” said Su, who has been running the hotel for over six years.

Protective goggles were the avenue for eyeglasses manufacturing company Roring Industries (Xiamen) Ltd. to join the fight. It is now adept at producing 8,000 pairs of protective medical glasses daily, a substantial increase from 1,000 at the beginning.

Caring is mutually beneficial. To help businesses tide over the difficulties brought about by the COVID-19, government departments from central to local levels rolled out a slew of incentives, offering tax breaks and exemptions.

“The measures are heartwarming,” said Wu Chin-chung, founder of the company. “It shows that as long as we fight shoulder to shoulder, we can overcome the epidemic,” Wu said.