Beijing: In an apparent move to rebuild its presence in China, Google on Wednesday said it will open a research lab focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Beijing - its first such center in Asia.
Google's search engine and many of its services - including YouTube - remain blocked in mainland China.
The 'Google AI China Center' will join the other AI research groups that the company has in other parts of the world, including in New York, Toronto, London and Zurich.
Focused on basic AI research, the lab will consist of a team of AI researchers in Beijing, supported by the company's engineering teams.
"We've already hired some top experts, and will be working to build the team in the months ahead," Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist, Google Cloud AI and Machine Learning, wrote in a blog post.
Google said China is home to many of the world's top experts in AI and machine learning and the objective behind opening the center in Beijing was to tap the best AI talent in the country.
"I believe AI and its benefits have no borders. Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone's life better. And we want to work with the best AI talent, wherever that talent is, to achieve it," Li added.
The "Google AI China Center" will publish its own work, support the AI research community by funding and sponsoring AI conferences and workshops and work closely with the AI research community.
Google shut down its Chinese search engine seven years ago after a direct confrontation over Beijing's censorship policies.
Earlier in the month, Google's India-born chief executive Sundar Pichai said that a lot of the tech giant's work actually helps Chinese companies.
Attending the fourth edition of the Chinese state-run "World Internet Conference" in Wuzhen, near Shanghai, Pichai said that many small and medium-sized businesses in China take advantage of Google to get their products to many other countries outside of China.
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