Suzhou’s COVID-19 outbreak has ‘puny’ impact on chip supply chain despite some disruptions
Published: Feb 22, 2022 08:54 PM

A volunteer takes vegetable packages from a staff member at Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 20, 2022.Photo:Xinhua

A volunteer takes vegetable packages from a staff member at Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 20, 2022.Photo:Xinhua

Chip producers in Suzhou, a manufacturing hub in East China's Jiangsu Province, are actively coping with impact from a COVID-19 outbreak in the city with measures such as closed-loop management and flexible work shifts, which have helped minimize the impact on the supply chain so far, industry insiders said on Tuesday. 

The Suzhou Industrial Park, which accounted for 6.5 percent of China's foreign trade in 2021 and is home to many multinationals, has encountered unprecedented challenges with employees from over 15 companies having reported cases, according to media reports, raising concerns over whether the supply chain would be disrupted.

But several industry insiders, including those working inside the compound, said that the impact on the business operations of the industrial park and the whole supply chain is limited and controllable at the moment.

An employee with a large semiconductor producer in the park told the Global Times that some of the employees are under quarantine because they are suspected close contacts of confirmed cases.

"But most of our staffers - over 80 percent - are working at our factory at the industrial park, and goods, including raw materials and spare parts, can still be transported smoothly in and out of the park," the person said.

More companies, mostly semiconductor producers, in the industrial park have temporarily readjusted or halted production due to epidemic prevention needs.

An employee working at the R&D building in the Bosch Suzhou plant was diagnosed with an asymptomatic infection on Friday, and the employee and colleagues who had close contact with him have been transferred to a designated medical facility for observation, the Paper reported on Monday.

Bosch said that it is cooperating with relevant government departments and is working hard to resume production as permitted, with office staffers continuing to work from home, the report said.

"We will do our best to protect the health and safety of employees and reduce the impact on customer supply," the company said.

Some other semiconductor suppliers including Hejian Chip Manufacturing (Suzhou) Co, a subsidiary of United Microelectronics Corp, and Jinglong Technology (Suzhou) Co have suspended production after some of their employees were confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19.

Despite the sporadic cases, industry analysts said that the situation is controllable since the reported or suspected cases are under closed-loop management due to the prompt and effective measures.

"What happened at the park is nothing major for either other companies in the compound or the supply chain," an industry insider told the Global Times on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

"The vast majority of companies in Suzhou are still in normal operation, despite the epidemic... including our raw material suppliers for making semiconductors in the area," the person said.

From midnight to 3 pm on Tuesday, Suzhou reported one new confirmed case and one new asymptomatic infection, which were found in monitored areas.

As of 3 pm on Tuesday, 102 confirmed cases and 25 asymptomatic infections had been reported in this round of the epidemic. All of them have been treated at designated medical institutions.

Global Times