Pig-headed Huawei heads for hog heaven amid US-China row

The 5G giant is branching out to pursue AI projects such as facial recognition of pigs in the farming sector

Forget the Year of the Ox. For high-tech superpower Huawei, this is rapidly developing into the year of the pig.

Battered by sanctions imposed by the United States, the Chinese smartphone and 5G infrastructure giant plans to use artificial intelligence to help hog farmers.

AI and Cloud Computing will be adapted to track pigs through facial recognition technology and detect deadly diseases such as African Swine Fever.

China has the world’s largest hog industry and is only starting to recover from a massive outbreak of the virus. At least 200 million pigs have died or have been culled since 2019.

“Artificial intelligence will help the pig farming project,” Duan Aijun, the president of Huawei’s machine vision business, said earlier this week on Twitter-like Weibo, a Chinese social media site.

The facts:

  • Huawei is moving into other industries at home such as farming and mining with high-tech solutions.
  • US sanctions have blocked the company from accessing vital components.
  • As a result, Huawei’s consumer business has suffered.
  • The group saw a 41% drop in global smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of last year.
  • “Huawei dramatically receded in most markets as the result of the US sanctions,” Amber Liu, an analyst at Canalys Research, said in a report.

What was said: “The issue here is not like there are any problems with our quality or experiences of the Huawei products. It’s not a level playing field as Huawei is caught in between the geopolitical tensions [between the US and China],” a Huawei spokesman told the BBC.

A bacon beacon of hope: “Pig farming is yet another example of how we try to revitalize some traditional industries with ICT [Information and Communications Technology] to create more value for the industries in the 5G era,” the Huawei spokesman said.

China Factor comment: Last year, Huawei became the biggest casualty in the tech war between Washington and Beijing. Starved of American technology, the group has had to strip out US software and scramble to replace it with home-grown alternatives. The conglomerate has also been embroiled in a 5G infrastructure controversy because of its close links to China’s ruling Communist Party. For many overseas consumers and companies, Huawei is a tainted brand.