When Kris Lin, who owns a lighting factory in China, received this year's first order from a close overseas client, he faced a distressing choice: take it at a loss, or tell workers not to come back after the Lunar New Year.

"It was impossible for me to lose this order," said Lin, who plans to restart his factory in the eastern city of Taizhou at around half its capacity after the Feb. 10 to 17 holiday break.

"I could have lost this client forever, and it would have endangered livelihoods for so many people. If we delay resuming production, people might start doubting our business. If rumors spread, it affects the decisions of our suppliers."