My brother who lives in Taiwan sent me this email about his experiences with the Coronavirus:
Meanwhile, we are nervously watching the coronavirus epidemic unfold.
I went to the emergency room on the first day the hospitals reopened
after the lunar new year holiday, during which news of the outbreak
hit the media. Everyone was pretty freaked out. It isn’t actually a
bad time to go to the hospital since right now most people want to
avoid hospitals as much as possible. Taiwan hasn’t actually had many
cases (we are currently at 18 cases), which is something of a miracle
considering how much travel there was between Taiwan and China. The
government has taken quick and forceful steps to control the disease,
and it seems to be working pretty well. Right now, I’m more worried
about Japan (which has recently found a few very unexpected cases)
than Taiwan. If Japan loses control, that would be very, very bad.
In China, they have completely lost control of the disease. The
international media still doesn’t seem to grasp the extent or
implications of the outbreak. The virus is spreading in every major
city. The regime now has a choice of shutting down the economy for at
least three months or letting the disease spread uncontrolled. They
have so far chosen the former path, and this is undoubtedly the
correct choice. However, this only slows down the disease; it doesn’t
solve the problem. We are nowhere near the peak; this virus is too
widespread and stealthy/virile to be stopped by anything short of warm
weather and/or vaccines, both of which are several months away.
Incredibly, the government seems to want to try to open some
factories, which would put China on the total infection path. It seems
inevitable now that most or all of China will eventually come under
martial law, the regime will have to shoot some protesters, and there
will be (potentially regime-threatening) fiscal crises. Oh and there
will also be a humanitarian disaster, with a final death toll
somewhere between the hundreds of thousands and tens of millions. In
fact, it’s unfolding even faster than I expected; Xi Jinping just sent
some loyal army units into Hubei Province, where there are rumors of
riots. In short, history is happening. There is no precedent for this
outbreak in modern world history. We have had plagues before, but no
one understood what was happening. It was God’s will. Now we
understand how viruses work, and we can clearly see how the Chinese
government has utterly failed at a basic task of modern governance.
Also, this sort of outbreak has never happened in such a rich country
with such a strong state and so interconnected with the rest of the
world. I don’t know how this will end, but China will not be the same
a year from now. And if this disease escapes China’s borders, other
countries might be similarly tested.
Based on the delays announced at Purism, this seems to confirm that all the Chinese factories will be shut down for 3 months. What seems strange to me is that warm weather will kill the virus. Usually warmer weather lets diseases spread.
I’m guessing that none of the Chinese companies that do assembly in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brazil and Ethiopia will be able to run their factories if they can’t get parts out of China.
Considering that Samsung and LG are the two phone makers that have the fewest operations in China, I wonder if they will benefit from this crisis, or they also have too many parts coming from China, so their factories in Vietnam will have to also shut down.
Samsung announced last year that it was shutting down its last Chinese factory and would be outsourcing the design and manufacturing of 60 million of its phones per year to Chinese ODMs. I wonder if Samsung is now regretting that decision to outsource to Chinese ODMs like Wingtech.