In China, a growing disquiet about US efforts to contain its tech champions

  • Little mention of tech war onstage at conferences in China despite Huawei’s woes dominating headlines.
  • Executives privately voice concern of rising risks of a global digital iron curtain.
The US war against Chinese tech champions was absent from speeches, presentations and panel discussions onstage at high-profile conferences in China over the weekend, but offstage, the topic was discussed in hushed tones as the industry weighed the costs of an escalating tech cold war.

The US government’s requirement that American companies get special permission to do business with Huawei Technologies, the world’s No 1 telecommunications network equipment maker, has dominated headlines all week, with a succession of companies from Google, Microsoft to Qualcomm suspending their dealings with the Shenzhen giant.More companies, like surveillance companies Hikvision and iFlyTek, are reportedly being considered for the trade blacklist, which brought ZTE close to ruin last year by depriving it of access to American technology.
The move prompted Huawei owners outside China to sell their phones for fear they would turn into expensive paperweights. Shares of chip makers like Qualcomm tumbled as investors weighed the potential of retaliatory measures against companies that depended on China for much of their profits.

At the Big Data Expo in Guiyang on Sunday, visitors were greeted by a large screen displaying a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who urged all nations to work together to meet the challenges thrown up by the adoption of new technologies like big data and artificial intelligence.