Asia's casino capital Macau to host a CES alternative in 2021
Macau, the former Portuguese colony that is now the largest gambling center in the world, plans to host a technology fair next year, similar to the famous CES in Las Vegas.
The brains behind the "Beyond" conference are Lu Gang, founder of the Chinese tech news media company TechNode, formerly TechCrunch's China partner, and Jason Ho, a Macan venture investor and a member of CPPCC Beijing, China's leading political advisory body. Who also enjoys deep connections in the Macau government.
The event, which is partially funded by the Macau government, signals the region's long game of diversifying its casino-focused economy for its 600,000 residents. The fair was also "sponsored" by the Guangdong Provincial Government, which is establishing its own "Greater Bay Area" with Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macau and other cities in the region to compete with the San Francisco Bay Area.
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"Macau has a very good infrastructure. With the entertainment industry and hotels, I think it is very well suited to host an event that may attract people to join," Ho said in an interview with TechCrunch.
Unlike CES, the technology show will focus on government technology beyond consumer electronics and enterprise electronics, Ho said. It invites companies around the world specializing in social and environmental technology, life sciences, advanced technology and "new infrastructure." "specialize, a Chinese buzzword that relates to innovations such as 5G, smart cities and transport.
Ho believes that given Macau's "neutral" position in the geopolitical landscape, the event will be a bridge between China and the rest of the world.
"I think Macau can be a platform that could help other countries get to mainland China, or even companies from mainland China to travel to APAC or to Middle Eastern countries," said Ho.
"I think Hong Kong and Macau are the only ones that could have a very international and neutral event that people would love to attend and that don't feel like this is a very government event."
Many argue that Hong Kong's special status as a semi-autonomous region is at stake as Beijing gains more grip on the former British colony. Rise, a popular technology conference hosted by the Web Summit in Hong Kong through 2019, has been relocated to Kuala Lumpur due to ongoing political tensions in the city.
Ho admitted that Macau may face the same challenge, but believed that moving from Rise Hong Kong's major international technology fairs to CES Asia in Shanghai (in part due to the US-China trade war) should open up opportunities for Macau Attract participants from the Asian tech community and others interested in China.
The Web Summit will host RISE 2022 in Kuala Lumpur and kick off a new event in Tokyo
"I always have a big dream that at some point we will compare ourselves to Singapore," said Ho, adding that the Macau government is working to put in place policies that are friendly to foreign companies.
Beyond is slated to take place in mid-June next year, but the feasibility of the event will no doubt depend on how COVID-19 control evolves over the next few months.
In addition to technology companies and startups, Beyond aims to attract influential members from academia, society and provincial governments across China. The organizer is in talks with ByteDance, DJI, SenseTime, Alibaba, Tencent, Foxconn, BMW and others to invite executives of the giants to participate.
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