Chinese tech firms put on a strong show at MWC 2021 despite challenges
Published: Jun 28, 2021 09:58 PM
Photo taken on Feb. 23, 2021 shows a view of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2021 in east China's Shanghai. The MWC Shanghai 2021 opened on Tuesday.(Photo: Xinhua)

Photo taken on Feb. 23, 2021 shows a view of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2021 in east China's Shanghai. (Photo: Xinhua)

More than 100 Chinese companies, including Huawei and ZTE, attended the Mobile World Congress 2021 (MWC 2021) that kicked off on Monday in Barcelona, Spain, accounting for about one-fifth of the total number of exhibitors at the major industry event, in a show of steady rise of Chinese tech firms despite a US crackdown campaign.

The three-day event attracted more than 30,000 visitors from 143 countries and regions. Although the number is much smaller compared with the 100,000-plus crowds in past years, it still marks an encouraging recovery in the industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Notably, Chinese companies have a strong presence at the event. Three top executives from telecom giants, including ZTE CEO Xu Zhiyang and China Mobile Chairman Yang Jie, will deliver keynote speeches at the MWC 2021. Of the 550 exhibitors that were invited to attend the congress, more than 100 are from China. 

In a speech on Monday, Yang revealed a number of China Mobile's plans, such as producing major devices for 5G and cloud gaming, as well as applying 5G in segments such as factories, mines, ports and hospitals. 

Also at this event, ZTE brought new solutions to display around 5G SA and an all-optical network aiming to build a green, safe and intelligent digital connected network for operators, according to a statement from the company. The company's end-to-end green network solutions help customers around the world to save more than 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours of power each year, it said.

ZTE, together with more than 90 operators and up to 500 partners around the world, has carried out extensive innovative application explorations of 5G in more than 15 industries, according to the company.

During the exhibition, ZTE also brings a full range of cloud infrastructure that helps operators to realize the transformation from a communication service provider to a digital service provider.

Whether in terms of the number of participants or of speakers, Chinese companies have a fairly large presence in this year's MWC, a reflection of the importance that Chinese companies attach to this international industry event, experts said. 

Such a high level of involvement was expected, given the leading position China has played in the telecom area, where it accounts for half of the world's total revenues, they added.

"Although some countries like the US have attempted to crack down on Chinese technologies, many others are looking at business cooperation with Chinese companies because they understand that without China's participation, there will be a big loss in technical support for the world's telecoms development," Xiang Ligang, an industry expert in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.

Ma Jihua, a senior tech industry analyst based in Beijing, stressed that Chinese companies' participation in the MWC 2021 showed that despite the relentless efforts of the US to target Chinese tech companies, there has been little impact on the existing industry structure or the development prospects of Chinese companies. 

In particular, he said that Huawei will deliver a message at the event that it is still able to maintain a steady growth trend despite the US pressure - a message of confidence to its European operators. 

Experts also associated Chinese companies' active participation in MWC2021 with the fact that many Western countries attach great importance to the development of the 5G industry, in which China plays a leading role.

"Chinese 5G users account for 70 percent of the world, and for Western countries to achieve something in advanced telecommunication sectors like 5G, they must look at China as an example," said Xiang.

China has built nearly 850,000 5G base stations so far, the world's largest independent 5G network. 

However, Ma said that because of the coronavirus and other factors, it's unlikely for Huawei or other Chinese companies to launch any major products at the event.