SPECIAL | Takeaways from the 2018 Web Summit about the Chinese presence

The presence of China during Web Summit continues to be very shy. The Chinese Tech Ecosystem was not represented at the conference. Big tech companies such as Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba weren’t there, neither a Chinese Government presence. Also Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan didn’t had any “government” booths in the exhibition section destined to countries and different regions all over the World

Regarding the topics discussed in the 25 conferences, only a few have covered Asia and the Chinese Tech Ecosystem.

The first subject about China covered the landscape of robot activity in the region with the title of “China’s automated factories of the future“ given by Chadwick Xu from Shenzhen Valley Ventures. Chadwick gave the example of smart AI robot that has been implemented in precision assembling factories such as Xiaomi, that have transformed drastically the production lines of the company. Robot are more flexible and can handle multi products production with minimal changes. Chadwick is predicting that in the next 30 years 80% of the work in factories will be replaced by robots stopping and this will have an impact on the labor migration of countries that have cheaper labor costs.

The second subject covered “the China Startup Boom“ during the 2nd day of the summit. A round-table moderated by Chinese journalist Chen Wu from The Economist, with 3 Ventures Capitalists firms focused on the Chinese Market. They talked about the current landscape of the countries ecosystem and emphasis that Chinese entrepreneurs with companies in the US or that are trying to internationalize are managing their operations in China, with just a small presence of human resource there. There was also the predictions on the 3 main sectors to watch in 2019: deliveries/logistics, education and convenience solutions such as payments, as key investing areas.

This year speeches related to China spoke a lot less about censorship or intellectual property issues and a lot more about strategic and pragmatic cooperation.

China has also its own big conference about Internet that usually is in the same month of Web Summit in the city of Wuzhen that is the permanent host place of the “World Internet Conference” since 2014. There is certainly a big rivalry between East and West, with China having the ambition to take a prominent role in shaping the future of the global internet.

A battle is on to determine whether the U.S. or China will dominate the next era of 5G, which will transform the way people use the internet. Equipment makers and telecom operators in both countries are rushing to test and roll out the next generation of wireless networks, which will be as much as 100 times faster than the current 4G standard.

Technology and the internet are key battlegrounds in a trade war between China and the United States, with a spotlight on U.S. complaints about intellectual property theft and China’s ambitions to become a global leader in cutting edge tech.This year top 2 tech companies ZTE and Huawei have been hit severely by this war, with Millions of USD fines and putting ZTE company in jeopardy of dying.

Since the beginning of trade war market cap of the big Chinese tech companies almost declined by 40%, but their combined market caps is still in the trillions of dollars. WeChat, which is owned by Tencent, has more than a billion users, and while only 10% of its user base is estimated to be outside China, the ties are growing as more countries build economic bridges with the mainland.

National competition on tech innovation between these 2 countries needs to be replaced by strengthening relationships and cooperation between both innovation ecosystems.

Definitely it would be good to have some key Chinese companies or official Countries representations in the next Web Summit and in others big events such as RISE, Collision and other.

The same applies for western companies applying for the World Internet Conference in the city of Wuzhen. There is definitely more gains than losses for the global innovation ecosystem if East & West strengthen their cooperation.

*By Marco Duarte Rizzolio and Hugo Ricardo Felicio, Co-Founders at Follow Me Macau