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Taiwan Stanch makes up to 1 million masks a day to support the island’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Lauly Li)
Business Spotlight

Taiwan's 'hidden champions' help coronavirus fightback

Machine tool makers' race to boost mask output underlines importance to economy

CHENG TING-FANG and LAULY LI, Nikkei staff writers | Taiwan

TAOYUAN, Taiwan -- The small group of engineers and executives who met in a deserted warehouse in northern Taiwan on Feb. 10 had a simple yet daunting mission: help the country massively ramp up its output of face masks to deal with the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The 10 or so people who were starting a stretch of 15-hour days and fitful sleep were not experts in making masks; most knew little about any aspect of medical equipment. Instead, they were from a clutch of machine tool companies -- making the machines that help Taiwan's industrial wheels turn. And what they were about to accomplish would reinforce their often underappreciated role in the island's economy.

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