How resilient is China in times of COVID-19? 

Insight China, established in 2001, is an international student project which aims to generate valuable insights into the most important contemporary issues relating to economic, social, and political relations between Switzerland and China for its partners and delegation and to create an interactive and valuable study program. This year’s edition of Insight China already celebrates the 20th anniversary. It figures as the eldest international student project of the FHNW and proudly looks back at two decades of exciting, challenging, and successful history, which was made possible by many generous supporters and highly qualified team members and employees. On the occasion of this special event, the circumstances surrounding this year’s edition are unique and different from other years – mainly due to the coronavirus-outbreak. In line with this, the project Insight China 2020/21 will focus on the examination of the question: How resilient is China in times of COVID-19? More precisely, resilience will be divided into three subtopicsRESISTANCE against destructions, RECOVERY from damages afflicted and RESTORING the initial normal state.

Resilience – a multifaceted and diverse concept – is becoming increasingly important in times of instability, uncertainty, and rapid change in the business environment. How can resilience be defined and what significance does it have for companies? Originally, resilience defined the resistance of a body or material to external influences such as impact or deformation. Today the term is used in a much broader sense. Resilience can be seen as the ability of a system to overcome, absorb or resist the changes caused by disruptive elements such that the system can remain within the same regime and retain its original structure and functions. Resilience describes the degree to which the system is capable of self-organization, learning, and adaptation. For businesses, particularly crisis management and business continuity are relevant in this context. Potential risks to think of are natural disasters, cyber-attacks, supply chain disruptions, a pandemic, amongst others. Also, a new business environment and new circumstances, for example, due to innovation or new competition, can be mentioned and in a wider context seen as a risk. 

As of July 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to more than 200 countries and infected over thirteen million people worldwide resulting in unprecedented global health- and economic crisis. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states that “2020 is on track to witness the deepest global recession on a scale not seen since World War II”. 

To counter the recession, China’s rapid and effective response helped stabilizing the economy while fighting COVID-19. 85% of small and medium enterprises in China have resumed work, indicating that China’s domestic industries are recovering at a fast speed. The traditional industries for instance, such as tourism, hotel, and catering witnessed a rebound and other service industries are gradually recovering too. New businesses that experienced a strong development trend during the outbreak, such as social e-commerce have become more present in the retailing industry, which may stimulate consumption and decrease unemployment. 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease not only affects China’s economy but also the global economy, Insight China serves as an ideal informative platform for experts and company representatives to exchange valuable information in these extraordinary times and to further improve their knowledge on domestic and foreign practices. You, as a partner, will have the chance to benefit from updated expertise and can contribute to this unique student project. It would be an honour to greet you as a partner to celebrate a successful 20th anniversary of Insight China and moving together a step forward towards normality. We hope to get you on board. Thank you.  

Your INSIGHT CHINA Team 2021