China showcases tech mastery as Trump trade war festers

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 26 2019 05:35 AM | Updated as of Jun 26 2019 12:58 PM

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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SHANGHAI -- Caught in the crossfire of US President Donald Trump's trade war, the biggest names in Chinese technology showed off hardware and software which they claim to be a step ahead of their Western competitors.

Huawei, Vivo and Oppo are among the exhibitors at Mobile World Congress in this Chinese financial hub that will open on Wednesday, organized by a world alliance of 750 telecom operators and 400 tech companies.

In May, Google announced it was suspending business with Huawei, the world's second largest smartphone vendor and biggest supplier of network equipment after Washington blacklisted the firm on allegations its products served as a backdoor for Chinese spies.

The move will effectively cut off Huawei's access to updates for the Android operating system that powers its phones. A 90-day moratorium will expire in August as the US and China attempt to restart trade negotiations.

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei denied working for Beijing's communist party and decried the US move as politically motivated. His daughter, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada last December on the request of Washington officials, who accused her of violating sanctions on Iran.

CHINESE INVASION

In the Philippines, 3 of the top 5 best selling smartphone brands in terms of volume sold are Chinese: Vivo, Oppo and Huawei, according to industry tracker IDC's report in the first half of last year.

Chinese manufacturers offer comparable or better specifications, at least on paper, compared to world leaders Samsung and Apple, but at lower price points.

"While for a long time, China-made products were being looked down as inferior, today, we could see that this is no longer true. Many products from China are not only better than their western counterparts but also more affordable," Manila Bulletin business tech editor Art Samaniego told ABS-CBN News.

The Philippines' dominant carriers, PLDT Inc and Globe Telecom, have partnered with Huawei for their respective 5G rollouts, which will power the next wave of connected hardware such as self-driving cars.

China Mobile partnered with Filipino businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp to establish the Philippines' third telco, aimed at breaking the PLDT-Globe duopoly.

Scan-to-pay solutions Alipay and WeChat Pay have also established themselves in the Philippines, initially targeting Chinese expatriates who work in offshore gaming sites.

Chinese smartphone makers are generally ahead of the West in solving consumer pain points. Vivo's Apex was among the first to hide the front-facing camera in a motorized pop-up module for a true bezel-less experience.

Vivo later brought the technology to lower-priced phones such as the V15 Pro released this this year. The V15 Pro also packs AI-assisted triple cameras on its back.

Huawei put 4 rear cameras on the P30 Pro, including a periscope-style lens whose 50 times zoom capability can capture crisp images of the moon.