|A Huawei Technologies booth is seen at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Thursday. Korea Times photo by Baek Byung-yeul|
By Baek Byung-yeul
LAS VEGAS ― Chinese tech firms have flexed their muscles at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in recent years, but the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China appears to have discouraged many seen by the reduced presence at the world's largest electronics fair, according to industry analysts here, Thursday.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), one of the hosts of the show, announced 4,500 companies from 155 countries had registered to promote their products and technologies. But the number of Chinese companies which signed up for this year's tech fair stood at 1,211, about a 20 percent decrease from 1,551 in 2018.
An industry analyst from China explained fewer Chinese firms were participating in the show because of U.S. President Donald Trump's tough rhetoric toward their country.
"Attending a show like the CES is expensive, and with Trump's rhetoric toward Chinese technology, companies in China are rethinking their strategy of investing in the U.S.," Shaun Rein, a managing director of the China Market Research Group was quoted as saying in a recent report by the South China Morning Post.
China's low-key reaction to the CES could be seen from the beginning of the fair as no Chinese executives delivered keynote speeches.
Huawei Technologies CEO Richard Yu delivered such a speech for two consecutive years at the 2017 and 2018 CES, and internet firm Baidu's chief operating officer showed off his firm's vision in artificial intelligence (AI) technology in 2018.
Xiaomi, known for its cheap but sleek smartphones, and telecommunications equipment firm ZTE didn't even take part in the fair.
While the Qualcomm and Intel booths were packed with crowds who wanted to know what they could do with fifth-generation (5G) networks, there was no mention of 5G at the Huawei booth, located right next to the U.S. tech giants.
An official there said Huawei is capable of introducing smartphones supporting 5G network services, but had not discussed exhibiting them at the fair.
"We have not discussed displaying our 5G-based technology or products at the CES," the official said.
An official at Chinese home appliance maker Hisense even introduced the company as an Asian brand to visitors who were asking which country the firm was based in.
A Chinese visitor living in the U.S. attributed the decreased participation by Chinese firms to the ongoing trade dispute between the two countries. "I have regularly visited the show to see how much Chinese firms have improved. I feel kind of sad this year as they have participated less," the visitor said at the Haier booth.
However, there was still explosive attention paid toward Chinese firms at the CES.
In the TV sector, where Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have shown their dominance in terms of technological capabilities and market share, Chinese firms appeared to have narrowed the gap.
While LG showed off the industry's first rollable OLED TV and 8K OLED TV, Chinese firms also joined the 8K TV showdown.
TCL displayed its 8K TV at the show. Though it is not commercialized yet, the firm said it will begin mass production starting the first quarter of 2019 and will sell it in the United States within this year. Hisense introduced its 8K TV as well.
Royole, which introduced the world's first foldable smartphone FlexPai in 2018, also succeeded in gaining visitors' attention.
The Chinese firm showcased the FlexPai phone and visitors had to wait in line for 15 minutes to experience the phone first-hand.
"It was impressive to actually experience the foldable phone, though it looks like a prototype and needs to be more polished. But, anyhow it is always fun to have a new phone," a visitor to the Royole booth said.