We continue our special series Men of the People, focusing on the human stories behind the Communist Party of China. Medical masks have been in high demand since COVID-19 changed the world. During the first few months of the pandemic, supplies were at risk. In East China's Zhejiang Province, one private entrepreneur helped produced millions of quality masks, boosting efforts to fight the virus. CGTN's Wu Lei has more.
Face masks were a real lifeline at the time. Although my company isn't big, I still did my best to produce quality masks at all costs. That was my responsibility and duty.
Lin Jinxiang is a private entrepreneur from the city of Jiande in Zhejiang Province. His company has been producing face masks for around 25 years. On January 20th 2020, China's top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan confirmed that the new coronavirus discovered in Wuhan could be transmitted from person-to-person. Lin Jinxiang held an urgent meeting in his company the next day, and decided to guarantee mask supplies.
LIN JINXIANG President, Jiande Chaomei Daily Chemical Company "All our employees were on holiday for the Spring Festival at that time. So I asked them to return to the factory for three times their salary. I paid them that level of salary for two months."
Lin says only around 20 companies in China had the certification to produce medical protective masks at the time. He says he was one of the first to take the initiative with around 700 employees returning to the factory.
LIN JINXIANG President, Jiande Chaomei Daily Chemical Company "We produced over 20-million medical protective masks in the first two months, which accounted for around 55 percent of the country's total demand, and around 98 percent of the demand in Zhejiang Province."
Lin Jinxiang says the market price for each medical mask was as high as 26 yuan at the time – or nearly four U.S. dollars. But he sold masks to hospitals on the frontlines for a cut price of six yuan each – that's less than a dollar.
LIN JINXIANG President, Jiande Chaomei Daily Chemical Company "I lost around 300-million yuan in profit during that period. As a small-and-medium private company, we were not that rich. But as a member of the CPC, I believe it's my social responsibility, especially when the whole country is faced with such a disaster."
In order to better protect the company's employees, Lin Jinxiang says he spent around 6 million yuan renting 10 hotels nearby the factory, making sure they could fully devote themselves to the work. With record levels of market demand, many domestic companies decided to invest and produce their own face masks. But only a few companies like Lin's had the qualifications to test the materials and evaluate quality. So Lin Jinxiang made another bold decision to open up his lab, and offer free tests and training for new mask producers.
LIN JINXIANG President, Jiande Chaomei Daily Chemical Company "I was a little hesitant, because it meant sharing my business technology with other manufacturers. The technology in the mask production sector is relatively conservative."
Lin's company warehouse was almost empty in the first half of 2020, with all of the masks delivered to hospitals in China and around the world. As the pandemic is gradually brought under control domestically, his company is now focused on exporting to overseas market, where demand remains high.
LIN JINXIANG President, Jiande Chaomei Daily Chemical Company "I may have earned less profit this year, but I'll make it back over the next few years. It's the values and sense of duty that define a man, not the profit he makes."
Lin Jinxiang believes more entrepreneurs have taken their sense of social responsibility seriously amid the pandemic, and he says their efforts are helping drive the global recovery. Wu Lei, CGTN, Zhejiang Province.