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Huawei takes a trip to the opera in a break from trade wars
[PARIS] Thank goodness Huawei always has Paris.
With trade drama hitting China in the U.S and espionage allegations plaguing its technology companies, bosses at smartphone giant Huawei Technologies Co. have been trying a range of tactics, from extending olive branches, blaming governments for being unfair, and calling U.S. lawmakers "close-minded."
But this week, Deputy Chairman Ken Hu is heading to the French capital to unveil a technology partnership involving a 900,000-euro (S$1.35 million) investment over three years into a content-sharing platform at France's national opera company. It fits into the state-backed opera's strategy of opening up to startups and seeking technology partners to help expand its audience.
It's not the first time Hu has summered in Paris. In July last year, alongside Zhai Jun, the Chinese ambassador in France, and Myriam Mazouzi, academy director of the Paris Opera, Hu revealed an education platform, with Huawei providing the technology to open up the Opera's archives, as well as online training classes.
For Huawei, the world's largest maker of smartphones after Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. , the partnership is a strong symbol in a part of the world that has been friendlier to Chinese technology companies. While U.S. regulators have pushed back against Huawei's telecommunications networks gear, the Shenzhen-based supplier is well established in France and has an agreement with Bouygues Telecom to test the next generation of wireless equipment.
"For infrastructure, smartphones and enterprise, France is one of the most important markets for Huawei," Vincent Pang, the company's Western Europe chief, said in Paris. "We pay very special attention to this market."
Founded in 1669 by King Louis XIV as the "Académie d'Opéra" to pin France on the global stage of lyric performances, the Paris Opera is a key piece of the country's cultural diplomacy. Just like opera houses from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and Italy's La Scala, it's being forced to reinvent itself by seeking to integrate digital tools into its strategy to woo new categories of concert-goers and freshen its customer base.
Last year it signed a co-branding deal to sell Devialet SA's high-end speakers in its concert house in central Paris, as well as to stream live performances over the startup's products.