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Company innovations boost resilient economy, benefit consumers

By Chris Pereira | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-01-18 07:18


How will the Chinese economy grow in 2024? A recent expo may provide insights.

At the world's premier annual consumer technology expo, Chinese companies provided the real surprises. Despite China's slowing economy, the innovation, pragmatism, ambition and entrepreneurial energy on display from Chinese companies at the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show called for optimism.

Hundreds of thousands of attendees come together at the CES in Las Vegas every year to get a glimpse of the future. With thousands of companies displaying their latest ware, the competition to stand out from the crowd was intense at this year's show, held from Jan 9 to 12. Some of the bigger global companies spent millions of dollars on just their presence and displays at the CES.

This year saw many Chinese companies take part in and steal the show. More than 1,100 companies registered in China, a new record, with many more of Chinese-origin companies registered with their US subsidiaries took part in the show. As such, Chinese companies accounted for more than a quarter of the over 4,000 companies participating in the CES this year.

While many of the world's biggest tech companies had attractive booths at the CES, their presence felt almost routine, and their new tech announcements lacked the excitement that their R&D budgets should have aroused. The music, videos, and the booth design were far more impressive than the technologies on display from these huge companies. Instead of breakthroughs, they showcased incremental advancements: a slightly clearer screen, faster computing speeds or additional new features.

Some of the biggest tech companies from China did have similar, incremental advancements on display as well, and companies such as Hisense and TCL had gigantic booths that were on par with the other global giants. But the real excitement came from China's younger companies.

In particular, several sectors were highlighted by Chinese innovations. The one that most aptly showcased China's strengths in high-quality manufacturing, comprehensive supply chains, fast product development, and thoughtful innovations was the smart home products sector.

The Chinese companies presented innovative products that directly improve the quality of life and add a sense of freshness to the home. Nothing represented China's advantage in the smart home sector more than robotic vacuum cleaners. This highly competitive and surprisingly large product category featured numerous Chinese companies making robotic vacuum cleaners that are both affordable and more advanced.

Multiple companies presented colorful indoor lighting displays which could be controlled remotely or be automatically adjusted through artificial intelligence technology to detect the mood in the room. Also on display were products made by a company which specializes in tiny drones that take off from the palm of your hand and film you without any need for remote control. This innovative and easy-to-use product was one of the darlings of the visitors to the CES, with one journalist exclaiming "it's a great idea and it actually works".

There were bird feeders with video cameras, too, showing a whole different view and birds' species identification. Another company combined health and smart innovation to make the smallest and most affordable over-the-counter hearing aid. A clever but simple towel warmer bucket greeted nearly every passerby suffering from tech fatigue with a smile.

Apart from the smart home product companies, China's strength lies also in clean energy technology. Despite the United States' heavy restrictions on the supply of goods, especially high-tech goods, to Chinese electric vehicle (EV) companies, many of them still exhibited exciting technologies, including X Peng's flying EV and U Power's plug-and-play EV chassis, which allows for faster development of the EV sector.

Home energy storage products showcased Chinese companies' knack for both clean energy and smart home products. Nearly all of the companies in this sector were from China including Jackery, Bluetti, Gendome and Ecoflow, and they all had prominent displays at the CES.

While the companies from China at the CES ranged from the smallest companies to massive global tech powerhouses, they combined innovation and thoughtful products that are more affordable while being of high quality. This makes Chinese companies indispensable for the global economy.

The energy of these companies shows the Chinese economy will continue to be robust and globally connected despite the many challenges it faces to maintain strong growth. This is good for China, good for the world, and even better for the global consumer.

The author is the Founder and CEO of iMpact, a communications and business consulting group.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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