By Suwatchai Songwanich
CEO Bangkok Bank (China)
The fall in Chinese vendors at CES appears significant because it ends seven years of growth, in which numbers rose from 400 in 2011 to 1,551 last year. Some Chinese tech firms told the media that worries over the US imposing higher trade tariffs on technology made them reconsider spending the money to exhibit at CES amid broader concerns about investing in, or trading with, the US.
The organisers of CES offered another perspective on the reduced number of exhibitors, saying the perceived downturn was the result of their strategy to offer more space to larger vendors, which meant there was less room for smaller businesses. This was reflected in the increased footprint for a number of China’s tech giants, such as Lenovo, Baidu and Alibaba.
Even with its reduced turnout of 1,211 vendors, China still had the second-largest country presence, after the US, and its companies accounted for more than a quarter of the total 4,500 exhibitors.
Fewer groundbreaking Chinese products were showcased at the event than in recent years, but there were still some impressive technologies on display. Notable mentions include iFlytek’s AI-powered translator, which handles Mandarin and more than 60 other languages; Hisense’s 100L7T 4K Smart TriChroma Laser TV, which uses unique laser technology to produce ultra-high-resolution images; and Baidu, which announced mass production of its autonomous vehicles using its Apollo platform, starting this year.
While trade disputes may have increased the temperature in China-US relations and reduced Chinese turnout at CES, they have done little to cool the pace of innovation in real terms.
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