Google is on its way to forming an artificial intelligence specialist team in China, even though its services remain blocked on the mainland, reports Bloomberg. The Google AI division has posted job listings for over 20 positions based in Beijing covering every department from engineering to marketing. The U.S firm is also looking to hire in Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Google AI
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Growing investments in AI

According to a posting on social networking platform LinkedIn, the Google AI segment has been hiring for the research scientist role since May. Two other job titles that have been listed are for a software engineer in machine learning technology and a technical lead in Beijing. The Google AI team is also looking to hire a product manager in cloud machine learning.

Kitty Fok, China managing director at consulting firm IDC, says, “China has a lot of data from mobile payments, gaming, social, search and news.”

Further, the expert said that technology giants like Google want to learn about this large amount of data in depth so they can create their AI algorithms, notes Fox Business. Thus, to increase the quality of its algorithms, the search giant is keen to hire local talent in China.

Google‘s job listings might create even more friction between China and the U.S., as China itself is looking to outperform the United States in artificial Intelligence by 2030, notes the South China Morning Post. China has long adopted artificial intelligence as a national strategy, believing it can fuel its economy and innovation in the next decade. The core area of the sector is expected to be valued at 150 billion yuan by 2020, whereas artificial intelligence-related fields are valued at a collective 1 trillion yuan, according to the government’s forecast.

The development is two-way, with Chinese startups using the Google AI platform Tensorflow to develop and test applications and products, according to Shanghai Daily. According to research firm IDC, global spend on cognitive and artificial intelligence will surpass $46 billion by 2020 from an estimated $12.5 billion this year. In China, the artificial intelligence application market is expected to grow 50% year over year, more than the 20% annual growth expected from the global market, according to McKinsey.

Google keen to expand in China

Google’s run in China has not been smooth. The U.S. firm departed the mainland in 2010, redirecting mainland users to an unfiltered Hong Kong site. Google’s search engine and other services such as Gmail were blocked in the country, even though Android became the most popular software there.

Google, however, has been making efforts to expand its operations in China. Last year, a three-game rematch was hosted by the southern city of Wuzhen between Google artificial intelligence platform AlphaGo and China’s 19-year-old human world champion. At the event, Google Cloud executive Jia Li said she was searching for AI engineers in the country to increase the company’s current workforce in Beijing and Shanghai.

Additionally, during a summit in May, Google stated that it was working on providing more muscle to AI research in China. Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt stated that AI is capable of covering voice and picture recognition, machine translation, and self-driving, and it can be embedded into government and health care sectors.

It’s not just Google that’s looking to hire talent from China. Other tech giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, are equally interested in the talent search there. Although Facebook is also banned in China, the social networking site released its photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons there in May.