Huawei buys Russian facial recognition technology ahead of Chinese president’s state visit

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has previously indicated his appreciation for Russian researchers’ technological prowess.

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Chinese telecom giant Huawei has purchased the rights to facial recognition technology developed by Moscow-based security technology firm Vocord, according to Russian media outlet RT.

The acquisition, which is reportedly priced at USD 50 million, will see employees and as well as the technologies of Vocord being transferred to Igl Softlab, a new firm set up by Huawei’s Russian subsidiary and Huawei Digital Technologies.

Vocord is a Moscow-based security systems provider founded in 1999. It has a team of 120 developers, mathematicians, and engineers. The company’s product lines include facial recognition, video surveillance and analysis, video enhancement and authentication, license plate recognition, and audio recording, according to its website.

Huawei’s precurement of the Russian company’s technology came just one day ahead of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia.

President Xi’s visit and his attendance at this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, amid an escalating Sino-US trade war, will “consolidate the political foundation of Sino-Russian relations, reaffirm their mutual support to each other on issues involving respective core and major concerns, and ensure the ties will not be affected by any change in the international situation,” said China’s vice foreign minister Zhang Hanhui at a press briefing last Thursday.

Geopolitics aside, Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei has long been an admirer of Russian scientists’ diligence and creativity. Ren has on many occasions mentioned an unnamed Russian mathematician who worked in Huawei’s lab and helped the company achieve a technical breakthrough from 2G to 3G.

In his press conference with Chinese media last month, Ren also mentioned Google’s recruitment of talented Russian graduates by giving them high salaries.

“From this year on, we will pay more than Google to hire them, letting them create on Russian soil. We need to compete with Google in attracting talent,” he said.