It will still take some time for normality to truly return to China’s major cities. But after passing the peak of the pandemic, the feeling of relief is momentous. This has also been noted by Mandy Lin, Director China at Greater Zurich Area Ltd (GZA). She is no longer solely confined to her home office, with Lin now able to divide her time between working from home and returning to the office in Guangzhou, an economic hub in the south of China that is home to around 11 million people.
Mandy Lin coordinates contact points for Chinese companies with an interest in the Greater Zurich Area. According to Lin, it is a region that continues to hold an appeal: “I am in contact with the head of a tech firm seeking to open an R&D location in Greater Zurich”. In this regard, projects that were initiated prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic are continuing to be implemented. For Lin, this is good news. After all: “Our pipeline was well filled at the start of the year”, she explains. In some cases, the legal consultation contracts have even already been signed, with only the date on which the business is to be established needing to be postponed.
Promising prospects for the life sciences sector
In the past year alone, a total of eight Chinese companies have opted to establish a subsidiary in Greater Zurich. However, the precise ramifications of this crisis on the Chinese economy are still largely up in the air. But for Lin one thing is clear: The life sciences sector has a great chance to lead the recovery. She explains: “Because this sector is also prominently represented by way of an attractive ecosystem in Greater Zurich, it forms one of our most crucial focus areas alongside the high-tech sector”.
However, in reaching out to companies, Mandy Lin is still forced, at least for the time being, to avoid personal forms of contact. Although journeys are now permitted again, everyone is obliged to keep these to an absolute minimum. Events have either been canceled or shifted towards digital channels.
Lin comments: “It’s been a huge help that our digital communication channels were already well established. For example, during the crisis, we have been able to maintain direct contact with entrepreneurs via WeChat, a communication tool used widely in China”. Moreover, Lin takes part in relevant digital formats with the aim of raising the profile of the Greater Zurich Area, or is herself actively involved in events such as GZA webinar workshops.
Long-standing relationships create trust
According to Lin, the reputation of Greater Zurich as well as Switzerland as a whole has not suffered in China – quite on the contrary, in fact. “The solidarity shown by Switzerland at the start of the crisis was very well received in China and is now being repaid in the form of aid consignments”, she says.
This year, China and Switzerland celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations. “This represents an important expression of trust in the Chinese economy, especially during these turbulent times. Long-standing cooperations between Chinese companies and Greater Zurich form a solid foundation for the future”, Lin underlines.
By Yvonne von Hunnius