Sino-Swiss Business News
China calls for Switzerland to increase production of medical supplies and work with China to guarantee the materials needed in combating the COVID-19 and ensure the stability of global industrial and supply chains, a senior official said. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks in a telephone conversation with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. China is speeding up production of ventilators, which are the most urgently-needed equipment, Wang said. He said China hopes Switzerland, one of the world’s major suppliers of ventilators parts, will increase production to meet the pressing demands of the world. China also would like to cooperate with Switzerland in researching and developing drugs and vaccines, Wang added. The State Councilor noted China has established a green channel to facilitate the transportation of supplies for pandemic prevention. China appreciated Switzerland for supporting the country in the fight against the novel coronavirus, he said, adding that the Swiss embassy and consulates in China lowered flags to half-mast as China mourned those sacrificed and succumbed to the COVID-19 on Tomb Sweeping Day, which showed the friendship of Swiss people to the Chinese people.
China is sending protective material to Switzerland with a first batch of “urgently needed” gowns delivered to Zurich hospitals on April 6th, Keystone-SDA news agency reported, citing cantonal authorities. Another flight arrived in Geneva and more are expected in the coming days. The personal protective gear arrived at Zurich Airport on Sunday evening from Shanghai. The supplies will be distributed to 34 healthcare institutions in the cantons of Zurich and Schwyz. Another flight landed on Monday in Geneva carrying 92 tonnes of protective medical equipment including masks made in China, Reuters reported. That flight contained 2.5 million surgical masks, 10 million gloves as well as goggles and thermometers. The equipment will be distributed to 13 Swiss hospitals and pharmaceutical associations. Additional protective materials such as masks, gloves and safety glasses are expected to arrive in the coming days, according to SWISS International Airlines.
Beginning April 1st, 2020, Schweizerzug and RTSB will connect Switzerland and China by rail once a week. This offer for maritime containers on the iron silk road includes Frenkendorf near Basel and Niederglatt near Zurich and serves both Xian in the Shaanxi province and Hefei in the Anhui province. The new service offers a fast and reliable alternative to ocean and air freight, which are both currently severely restricted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. To carry out this service offer, Schweizerzug AG, based in Frenkendorf, and RTSB Schweiz AG, headquartered in Gams, formed a joint venture. Schweizerzug AG is a Swiss service provider for intermodal container transport by rail, and RTSB Schweiz AG belongs to the international RTSB group, a transport company focused on transmodal connections between Europe and the CIS, Mongolia and China. The transit time for this new connection between Switzerland and China is approximately 15 days to Xian and 18 days to Hefei. Compared to sea transport on the Rotterdam – Shanghai route, the new product from Schweizerzug and RTSB is about twice as fast.
Swiss-Swedish multinational ABB has completed its acquisition of a majority stake in Chinese e-mobility solution provider Chargedot Shanghai New Energy Technology, which provides AC and DC charging stations and the software platform to EV manufacturers, charging network operators, and real estate developers. ABB announced the pending Chargedot acquisition back in late-October, a move which ABB hopes will strengthen its relationship with leading Chinese EV manufacturers as well as helping to broaden the company’s e-mobility portfolio with hardware and software developed specifically for local requirements. ABB already offers solutions from grid distribution to charging points for electric vehicles as well as for the electrification of ships, railways, trams, buses, and cable cars. Acquiring Chargedot and its 205 employees will help broaden the company’s already expansive geographic footprint.
Oerlikon has received new large orders for manmade fibers production solutions from three of the world’s leading manmade fibers manufacturers. All three companies are based in China and have been key customers of Oerlikon for many years. The orders are for Oerlikon Barmag’s world leading filament-spinning technology for the highly efficient production of polyester fibers. The three projects have a total value of more than 600 million Swiss francs ($625 million). A very small proportion of these projects will be recognized in Oerlikon Group’s order intake in 2020, and the majority will be accounted for in 2021 and 2022. On-site delivery and installation of these systems is planned for the period from 2021 to early 2023. The systems business in China remains largely unchanged despite the short-term interruption caused by the coronavirus epidemic following the Chinese New Year celebrations. Long-term project planning for major customers in the manmade fibers industry has resulted in new major orders being placed with Oerlikon Barmag.
As the deadly coronavirus continues to send jitters worldwide, panic-stricken countries are looking at ways to combat the spread. To limit the spread of the virus, hospitals in China are using Swiss manufacturer IQ Air’s purifiers. The air purifiers gained prominence in 2002 when the Hong Kong Hospital Authority deployed its air purifiers in facilities treating patients. In an interaction with Moneycontrol, CEO Jens Hammes outlined the company’s plans and explained how his company’s product can help in dealing with the epidemic.
China has approved the use of Swiss drugmaker Roche’s anti-inflammation drug Actemra for patients who develop severe complications from the coronavirus as it urgently hunts for new ways to combat the deadly infection that is spreading worldwide. China is hoping that some older drugs could stop severe cytokine release syndrome (CRS), or cytokine storms, an overreaction of the immune system which is considered a major factor behind catastrophic organ failure and death in some coronavirus patients. Actemra, a biologic drug approved in 2010 in the United States for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inhibits high Interleukin 6 (IL-6) protein levels that drive some inflammatory diseases. China’s National Health Commission said in treatment guidelines published online that Actemra can now be used to treat coronavirus patients with serious lung damage and high IL-6 levels.
In the face of the coronavirus outbreak, SWISS International Airlines has extended its flight suspension to China and added Iran and Italy to the list of countries with no or limited service. SWISS announced that for the safety of passengers and flight crew it was further suspending flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai until April 24th. This follows the announcement in February that the suspension on flights to Mainland China would be suspended until March 28. This was a decision taken by the parent company, Lufthansa Group, and applies to several airlines including Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines. The Lufthansa Group also suspended flights from Munich to Hong Kong between March 6th and April 24th. Some connections are also cancelled on the routes from Frankfurt and Munich to Seoul. New restrictions have also been put in place for other destinations that have seen an outbreak of Covid-19 infections in the last couple of weeks. Connections to Tehran have been suspended until April 30th, according to Keystone-SDA.
Chungkin General Hospital in Liangjiang New Area, in Southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, recently signed an agreement with the prestigious Paracelsus Clinic of Switzerland, which officials said would help promote the medical cooperation between the two sides. Under the agreement, they will jointly establish expert workshops, become teaching hospitals for each other, establish diagnoses and treatment centers and arrange international medical exchange activities. A program of mutual visits will also be established for regular international exchanges and joint staff training, enabling local doctors to acquire internationally recognized skills. Co-established by the Second Affiliated Hospital of the Chongqing Medical University, Chungkin General Hospital covers an area nearly 19 hectares, is equipped with 1,000 beds and boasts top medical experts and over 30 departments. Switzerland’s Paracelsus Clinic, meanwhile, is an international bio-medical center renowned for its biomedicine and holistic medicine.
Swiss Ambassador to China Bernardino Regazzoni expressed his solidarity to those who suffer under the situation caused by the coronavirus. And according to him, Switzerland will soon send hospital equipments to China. The Swiss Government is currently working on a shipment of hospital equipment in coordination with the Chinese authorities. At the same time, a contribution of CHF 600,000 (around RMB 4.3 million.) was made in response to a call for help from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) located in Geneva and in support of World Health Organization (WHO) in China and its regional office for the Western Pacific. On the private sector side, Swiss companies, which play a key role in the thriving bilateral relations, have been donating medical supplies and nutrition products to support the fight against the epidemic, supporting local organizations on the frontline. In addition, Swiss Pharmaceutical industry is committed to providing expertise, products and advice to support virus research and patient diagnosis.