Coronavirus threatens to punish tech giants’ dependence on China

World

Coronavirus threatens to punish tech giants’ dependence on China

A long economic shutdown may cause greater problems as the global electronics supply chain is complex

James Titcomb and Hasan Chowdhury

At the end of China’s lunar new year, millions of workers who have travelled across the country to see family, return to manufacturing hubs such as Shenzhen, Ningbo and Guangzhou. Activity has to be scaled down as staff take time off but assembly lines can be rebooted as soon as bullet trains and buses bring them back. This year has been different.

The coronavirus epidemic already saw the new year, which was due to end on Thursday, extended until Sunday, and people have been advised to avoid travel. Even when it ends, it is unclear whether people will return to their place of work, says David Collins of China Manufacturing Consultants.

“The real question is how afraid people are. Will the labour move back or will people just stay in their hometown?” says Collins, a former executive at Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics firm that is one of the biggest such manufacturers in China...

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