Trump-bashing gets physical at China tech show

AFP, SHANGHAI

Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 5

It might be the most low-tech item at a Shanghai consumer electronics fair, but a bashable US President Donald Trump is eliciting perhaps the most physical reaction from visitors amid his tech-and-tariff dispute with China.

A kiosk at the center of the Consumer Electronics Show Asia (CES Asia) bills itself as a “stress-relief” station where visitors can smash a life-sized bobble-head likeness of the US president with a hammer.

The not-for-sale prototype serves as a proxy for more oblique Trump-bashing heard at the annual tech fair.

“It would be better if I could use my hands and feet. I think the hammer isn’t satisfying enough,” attendee Wang Dongyue, 31, said after sending the presidential noggin lurching back and forth. “I don’t have a good impression of him to be frank, because he’s not very friendly to China now.”

The trade show, which is organized by the US Consumer Technology Association (CTA), opened this week under the shadow of the escalating trade dispute.

China and the US have hit each other with steep tariffs on more than US$360 billion in bilateral trade, rattling financial markets and business confidence.

Technology is a key battleground, with the US pressing governments across the world to drop Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co from their 5G network development plans, saying it could be used by Beijing for espionage.

Huawei denies the charge.

On Tuesday, Huawei chief strategist Shao Yang (邵洋) said in a keynote speech that the company’s target of surpassing Samsung Electronics Co as the world’s No. 1 smartphone manufacturer by late this year “may take longer” now, without elaborating.

CES Asia, which ends today, is a branch of the main CES held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There was little evidence of any gloom clouding the fair, a lively showcase of the latest in the gadget world, including artificial intelligence (AI), self-driving vehicles, facial recognition products and other digital developments.

However, CTA president Gary Shapiro in an opening speech said that no one wins a tariff dispute.

“Simply put, a trade war is bad for everyone involved,” he said.

A series of delighted visitors took their turns bashing Trump at the “stress-relief” station, set up by Japanese tech firm Soliton Systems.

“They should have a boxing glove. That would feel better,” show attendee Liu Di said after watching visitors take their licks.

Takenori Ohira, a manager with Soliton Systems’ AI robots and Internet of Things division, said that Chinese visitors were “very excited” with the display.

“The reason we chose Trump is because he is in a sense very outstanding among all the American presidents from the past,” he said.