NVIDIA CEO makes first post-pandemic visit to China

Jensen Huang, President and CEO of American chipmaker NVIDIA, embarked on a whistle-stop tour of the company’s China offices this weekend before heading onwards to Taiwan. The visit was his first to the Chinese mainland since 2019.

Unlike other high-profile tech executives such as Apple’s Tim Cook and Tesla’s Elon Musk, Huang did not meet with any government officials during the trip. Whilst the trip was mostly low-key, it did include a viral homage to “Dongbei renaissance”, a renewed interest in the culture of China’s industrial heartland that has exploded on social media in the past year (Dongbei means Northeast).

During the trip, Huang, who was born in Taiwan and emigrated to the US at 9, wooed employees with an unexpected performance at the company’s New Year party in Beijing. In clips circulating on social media, the 60-year-old is seen donning a jacket in the instantly recognisable Northeastern floral pattern as he participates in Yangge, a type of folk dance also from China’s Northeastern provinces. The spectacle went viral on Chinese social media, garnering over 37 million views on the Twitter-like platform Weibo.

Huang may be hoping to repair the company’s relationships with key Chinese clients, who are increasingly turning against NVIDIA chips in favour of domestic rivals’ increasingly strong alternatives. The company has been working closely with the US government to create products for the Chinese market like the H20, L20 and L2 AI chips, which have downgraded computing power to comply with the most recent restrictions on the kinds of AI chips that can be exported to China.

However, Chinese tech firms including Tencent, ByteDance, Alibaba, and Baidu have all suggested they are not interested in the new chips made by NVIDIA, as the slower GPU will virtually eliminate NVIDIA’s advantage against domestic competitors.


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