US blacklisting to have no significant impact on operations: iFlytek CEO

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iFlytek was present at CES Asia 2019 to showcase its latest AI translation products in Shanghai, China on June 11, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Eugene Tang)
iFlytek was present at CES Asia 2019 to showcase its latest AI translation products in Shanghai, China on June 11, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Eugene Tang)

Speech recognition firm iFlytek’s operations and development will not be significantly affected by the company being included on a US trade blacklist, according to its chief executive officer.

Why it matters: iFlytek along with several other Chinese technology companies and government agencies were on Monday added to the so-called US Entity List, effectively banning them from doing business with American firms.

  • The US Commerce Department said the blacklisting comes as the companies are “implicated in human rights violations and abuses” in China’s western Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region, home to predominantly Muslim minorities.
  • Sensetime, the world’s most valuable AI startup, and surveillance camera maker Hikvision, as well as Megvii and Yitu, were also added to the list.
  • iFlytek is one of China’s national “AI Champions” alongside Sensetime, Baidu, Alibaba, Huawei, and Hikvision, among others. These companies are tasked with spearheading China’s AI efforts as it seeks to become a technological leader by 2030.

Details: iFlytek chairperson and CEO Liu Qingfeng wrote in an internal memo on Wednesday that the company would appeal its inclusion to the Entity List, adding that the iFlytek would see healthy growth throughout the rest of the year.

  • The company expects to report profits of between RMB 330 million and RMB 380 million in the first three quarters of 2019, up 50% to 73% year on year, according to documents filed to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Thursday.
  • Liu said that iFlytek has made it possible for people to “communicate freely” using its translation services, with its products being used in 200 countries and regions around the world.