China awards top tech prize to firms blacklisted by the US

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(Image credit: BigStock/Enggao)

Telecommunications equipment maker Huawei and facial recognition software maker Megvii, both blacklisted by the United States, have been awarded China’s top tech prizes on Sunday at a major internet conference held in the town of Wuzhen located in eastern Zhejiang Province.

Why it matters: The prize, dubbed “World Internet Scientific and Technological Achievements” and released at the state-sponsored World Internet Conference, signals support and recognition of the winners from the central government.

  • First held in 2014, the Wuzhen conference is an annual event organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province to discuss internet issues and policy.
  • The winning projects were selected and judged by a group of around 40 experts from around the world, covering products and services from artificial intelligence (AI), telecommunications, big data, cloud computing, digital manufacturing, and other internet-related fields, according to Liu Liehong, a CAC official, in 2018.
  • The US government has put Huawei and Megvii on a trade blacklist, effectively barring them from doing business with American companies.

Details: Huawei and Megvii were among 15 companies whose products and services were included on the list of winners.

  • Huawei was awarded for its Kunpeng 920 server chip which was released in January. The company said the chip outperformed its competition and consumed less power during internal tests.
  • Megvii was cited for its AI algorithm platform Brain + +, an open-source platform that enables developers to access the company’s AI and facial recognition technologies.
  • Other firms with products on the list include Chinese tech giants such as Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba.
  • Only four out of the 15 firms awarded were foreign companies, including American electric car maker Tesla, Microsoft, chipmaker Xilinx, and German enterprise software firm SAP.