Chinese brands further global drive in fight against COVID-19

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A staff member operates a robot cleaner developed by Chinese tech company Gaussian Robotics in Shanghai, east China, May 7, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

In the unprecedented global fight against COVID-19, medical supplies made in China, ranging from masks to ventilators and other high-tech equipment, have been widely used and eagerly sought worldwide.

As these products gain recognition and contribute greatly to the global containment of COVID-19, they help Chinese manufacturers further their global drive through sharpening the competitiveness of brands.

In April, a transportable CT scanner developed by Shanghai-based United Imaging Healthcare Co., Ltd., a global leader in advanced medical imaging and radiotherapy equipment, was installed in the Maimonides Medical Center, the largest hospital in Brooklyn, New York.

The intelligent CT scanner provides high-quality imaging and faster exams on COVID-19 patients, the company said. Meanwhile, an AI-driven system for analysis of COVID-19 cases designed by the company cut the time for reading CT scans to one minute with an accuracy rate of more than 90 percent. The system has been used in many domestic hospitals, according to Xue Min, chairman of United Imaging.

The trend of more Chinese brands going global was also seen at the 2020 China Brand Day series, which was held online this year over the weekend.

The event featuring the online exposition of indigenous brands attracted more than 1,300 companies to showcase their products this year, an over five-fold increase compared with the offline exhibition in 2019.

"The cloud exhibition will not only inject confidence into the uncertain world trade but also provide a new stage for Chinese brands to display their images amid the pandemic," said Chen Xianjin, a veteran in the exhibition industry.

Robot cleaners from Chinese tech company Gaussian Robotics have been exported to countries such as Singapore. The cleaning robots can reduce cross-infection risks and improve efficiency.

Cheng Haotian, founder and CEO of the company, said service robots were in urgent need globally due to the pandemic and disinfection robots that can meet the requirements of hospital wards had been developed.

Moreover, the company established in 2013 has now exported service robots to 23 countries and regions around the world.

The road ahead for Chinese brands to achieve their goal of standing out in the global market, however, is rocky.

"When our products entered the market in 2014, about 90 percent of domestic high-end medical equipment was imported from abroad. Our indigenous brands were just like outsiders," said Xue Min, the chairman of United Imaging, adding that only when Chinese firms reach the top level in the world and master the core technology in the industry can the brands go further.

Innovative brands

Statistics show that more than 300 exhibitions around the world have been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Alibaba Group, China's e-commerce giant, set up an online exhibition platform on May 7 in cooperation with the Shanghai municipal government to offset the impact of COVID-19.

World-renowned automobile brands, such as SAIC Motor, Geely, Volkswagen, General Motors and Ford, debuted on the platform with their new cars.

"The launch of the new cloud platform is not driven by the pandemic, but means Chinese firms are actively embracing the future of the exhibition industry," said Zhou Minhao, chairman of the Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shanghai.

Zhang Yong, executive chairman and CEO of Alibaba, said though the pandemic has posed challenges to the economy and society, the crisis could be turned into opportunities as long as it is handled properly.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba, has been committed to data center construction for 11 years and boasts more than 100 cloud data centers in 21 regions around the world.

Some young Chinese brands underpinned by innovation are also emerging in the international market during the pandemic by supporting more people to resume work safely.

After rolling out a series of AI-empowered solutions to help prevent and control the spread of the virus in China and gaining more experience, SenseTime, an artificial intelligence unicorn established in 2014, announced last month it would tap into the market in the Republic of Korea partnering with the country's global IT service provider LG CNS as part of its efforts to join the global fight against COVID-19.

At present, the SensePass developed by SenseTime has been installed at building entrances of LG CNS headquarters. The system enables employees and visitors to enter the building quickly by scanning their faces without direct body contact, avoiding gatherings of people.

Xue Min said the next five to 10 years are pivotal for Chinese brands to surpass their peers overseas as the construction of "new infrastructure," such as 5G, AI and cloud computing, booms across the country.

Jiang Xiaojuan, dean of the school of public policy and management of Tsinghua University, suggested that domestic enterprises should constantly raise the quality and influence of their products and services and strengthen brand building with the spirit of innovation.

"With a huge local market and complete industrial chains, Chinese brands will have more opportunities in the future while facing challenges as China has brought the epidemic under control earlier," she said.

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