China sends Wuhan back to work: Has country turned a corner in fight against coronavirus?

  • Wuhan city is variously known as 'Chicago of the East' and 'China's Detroit'.

  • Wuhan is China's automotive hub, making 10% of vehicles in the country

  • Major global carmakers like GM, Honda Motor and PSA have factories in Wuhan

China has asked several key industries in Wuhan to resume operations even as it's limping back to normalcy after being pummelled by the coronavirus crisis. The directive comes a day after President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan the first time through the Covid-10 epidemic scare.

The deadly coronavirus, which has killed more than 4,000 people globally, broke out in Wuhan. The entire city of 11 million was sent into lockdown in January as virus infection spread vigorously.

Hubei provincial government asks people to get back to work

The Hubei provincial government has now asked public transport workers and those manufacturing making medical supplies to return to work, Reuters reported. Other key industries that supply parts to global companies can also return to work subject to necessary approvals, the Hubei government said.

China's first 'sky train' starts it operation in Chengdu
Passengers crowd at a railway station on the first day of the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival holiday in Wuhan, Hubei province, China - File photo Reuters

The massive lockdown had shut normal life in Hubei and affected provinces, leading to a substantial reduction in industrial pollution. Wuhan is an automotive manufacturing hub in China, accounting for 10 percent of the vehicles made in the country. Factories in Hubei made as many as 2.42 million vehicles in 2018.

China's state news agency Xinhua said Xi arrived in Wuhan "for an inspection of the epidemic prevention and control work" in the city. The high-level visit was the first sign that the Chinese government was confident about having turned the corner in the fight against the crippling virus.

China no longer fears a return of epidemic

Xi's image within and outside China had taken a beating midway through the coronavirus pandemic. The expose that Xi probably knew about the deadliness of the coronavirus but didn't act decisively to contain its spread had unsettled China's ruling elite, who in turn rolled out massive surveillance programmes on social media.

Xi Jinping

The President, who wields immense powers in China was mainly absent on media following the surge in virus cases and fatalities. The fact that Xi conducted a state visit to the epicentre of the virus outbreak clearly shows that China does not fear a relapse into the epidemic any longer.

Why is Wuhan crucial for Made in China 2025?

The industrial city of Wuhan has a special place in the 'Made in China 2025' campaign. The city is variously known as 'Chicago of the East" and 'China's Detroit'. Wuhan, which holds great logistical advantages in China, is also in the forefront of technological innovations. The city became the first in China to grant approval for a self-driving bus service. Smartphone maker Xiaomi's artificial intelligence development centre is located in Wuhan.

Major global carmakers like General Motors, Honda Motor and Groupe PSA of France have factories in Wuhan. Besides, more than 500 car parts manufacturers are operating out of Wuhan, the Nikkei reported.

The fact that Wuhan is located at the confluence of the Yangtze and Han rivers makes it a fovorutie spot for heavy industries. China's biggest steelmaker Baowu Steel Group has huge factories in Wuhan.

Here is a list of major industries in Wuhan as per the Nikkei.

Related topics : Coronavirus
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