Tencent expands UK presence with collaboration in cultural industries

Tencent will tie up with British institutions in cultural creative industries as part of a pact signed in London Wednesday

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 11:53pm

Chinese tech giant Tencent will work with British institutions in the cultural and creative fields as part of a partnership with the UK amid cooling relations between China and the US.

The Shenzhen-based company signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK Department of International Trade on Wednesday in London. The pact is aimed at deepening ties between the social media-to-gaming giant and Britain, a key Chinese trading partner.

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Tencent is making a push into the UK amid growing scrutiny in the US of technology investments by Chinese companies. The US government is reportedly looking at informal partnerships between American and Chinese companies in AI. 

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China’s State Council has laid out goals to build a domestic AI industry worth nearly US$150 billion in the next few years, with the aim of making the country an “innovation centre” for the technology by 2030. 

Tencent was named by the Chinese government to a so-called national team of companies, which also includes Baidu, Alibaba Group and voice intelligence specialist iFlyTek, to spur development of the advanced technologies. Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.

“Openness, partnership and sharing at a global level have become our common vision for the future of human development in this digital era, within this context, the [MOU] is of great significance,” Lau Seng Yee, senior executive vice president of Tencent, said in a statement on the partnership with the UK.

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The collaboration will cover the cultural industries, which include a three-year partnership between the BBC and the Chinese company’s film production arm, Tencent Penguin Pictures, on co-production, content development, business licensing, and marketing and distribution of documentaries.

Tencent already has a prior working relationship with the BBC. 

Blue Planet II, an award-winning documentary co-produced by  Tencent Video and the British broadcaster, amassed a record-breaking 220 million views on Tencent’s video streaming site Tencent Video. Tencent will also introduce a British version of the “QQ Speed Mobile Game”, a 3D mobile racing game launched in 2017 that has 100 million registered users. Together with Oxford University, Tencent will create e-sport tournaments and courses to drive the development of competitive gaming, it said. The company will also establish strategic partnership with the British Fashion Council, and team up with British fashion designers to integrate artificial intelligence technology and big data analysis into fashion design.