Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: China's strength in the high-tech segment is still developing, and Wisconsin companies can help companies take products from concept to market.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world's premier gathering for consumer technology. This year at CES, Chinese companies unveiled a new image. In previous years, U.S. companies had been the leading exhibitors of new technologies, but this time, Chinese firms caught attention with their advanced technologies, highlighting how China has transformed from a manufacturer of low-value goods into a maker of high-tech products.

At the event in Las Vegas, over 1,500 Chinese companies registered to show their products and software applications. According to the Consumer Technology Association, one in every three exhibitors at the show came from China.

Some Chinese firms have shown their interest in expanding into the U.S. as a means to stimulate sales in the home market. Prior to the opening of CES, Huawei debuted the Mate 10pro, which it plans to make available in the U.S., home turf of the iPhone. ZTE, another mobile phone maker with sales in overseas markets outperforming what they have achieved in the domestic market, has also expressed interest in the U.S. market, and recently showcased a double-screen folding phone.

China’s three most important internet companies (Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, known collectively as BAT) are pushing into high-tech mobility, with support from Chinese government policies. Beijing has offered various incentives to boost its domestic electric vehicle sector in order to reduce air pollution, helping the country surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest electric vehicle market. Meanwhile, in 2016, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology called for “partially autonomous” vehicles to account for 50 percent of car sales by 2020, and “highly autonomous” vehicles to account for 15 percent by 2025. Many traditional auto original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have also moved quickly to invest or establish alliances with high-tech companies and manufacturers in the U.S., and some of their U.S. branches participated in this year’s CES.

Despite this fever, it is also apparent that most of these products are still at the conceptual level or early stage of development, and some not make it to market. It will take time for China’s technological transition to solidify.