At the same time, fallout from tensions between the United States and China is a major theme of this year’s show. The US-China trade war is slowing down business for companies from both countries, particularly startups and smaller businesses that don’t have the supply chain flexibility of larger tech rivals.
For example, e-scooter and e-bike maker Jetson says it is using its presence at CES to meet with suppliers and talk with competition about moving its supply chain out of China to Vietnam.
“It’ll definitely be on the agenda of every meeting we have,” said Josh Sultan, Jetson’s CEO. “10% to 25% tariffs are big numbers. They’re going to affect not just the way we manufacture but the way that our consumers purchase the product.”
The retrenchment of some Chinese companies at CES also follows a series of tough actions by the Trump administration, including a request to extradite Huawei’s CFO and tough sanctions against ZTE.
And it notably comes amid a big battle between the United States and China over 5G supremacy. The next generation of wireless technology, which is expected to replace 4G-LTE in the next couple years, is a major topic of discussion at this year’s CES.
But while some Chinese tech companies are skipping CES this year, others are doubling down, reflecting the deep ties between the world’s two biggest economies.
“China remains a top international market at CES, with many Chinese companies exhibiting at the show to build their brand and forge partnerships,” the spokesperson said.
Tensions with Chinese companies
Tensions between the United States and China over technology have spiked in recent months.
Huawei denies that it is an agent of Chinese national intelligence, and it has repeatedly said it’s unaware of any wrongdoing by Meng. The company insists it follows all the laws and regulations where it operates.
President Donald Trump added an extra wrinkle by suggesting he may intervene in American efforts to prosecute Meng, the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei, if it would help his pursuit of a trade deal with China.
The Commerce Department said those measures were the “harshest penalties and strictest compliance measures ever imposed in such a case.”
The dwindling number of Chinese tech firms at CES will also underpin conversations about 5G technology, a big component of this year’s show.
American companies are using the 2019 trade show as a platform for big 5G announcements, and may have a chance to steal the spotlight as Huawei takes a step back.
Both Qualcomm and Intel have a “significance presence” this year and are expected to provide 5G updates, according to Wedbush tech analyst Dan Ives. AT&T and Verizon will take the opportunity to highlight advancements in 5G tech for consumers, he added.
“With Huawei as one of the clear leaders in 5G and given [the] high stakes [of] US/China tensions, this year’s conference will be all about unveiling the future of 5G,” Ives said in a Monday note to clients.
Meanwhile, Huawei on Monday debuted a new chip geared toward the big data market in Shenzhen, where it’s headquartered.
CNN’s David Goldman contributed to this report.