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Microsoft’s president meets with the Chinese government to debate AI co-operation

Microsoft CEO Brad Smith participates in a gathering at The Westin Palace Hotel, on 20 May, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.

Cezaro De Luca | Europa Press | Getty Images

Microsoft President Brad Smith met with China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao on Wednesday to debate topics starting from artificial intelligence to trade relations between Washington and Beijing, based on a Youdao-translated Chinese government announcement.

The meeting underscores China’s try and show it stays favorable to American businesses amid continued tensions with the U.S., because it looks to reinvigorate its economy.

Notably, Smith and Wang’s engagement comes after U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last month — a gesture that commentators said showed China and the U.S. try to co-operate in areas with potential. It also signalled a desire to enhance the environment for foreign businesses.

During the meeting, Wang said that China is committed to providing higher services for foreign enterprises, based on an announcement from the country’s commerce ministry. The readout said that the Ministry of Commerce hopes Microsoft will play a “constructive role” in co-operation on artificial intelligence between China and the U.S.

Microsoft is seen as certainly one of the leading players in artificial intelligence, particularly after its reportedly multibillion dollar investment in ChatGPT developer OpenAI earlier this 12 months.

China’s own technology giants — from Alibaba to Baidu and Tencent — have also been launching their very own AI models and rival products.

Technology has been some extent of contention between the U.S. and China over the past few years. Washington has sought to limit China’s access to key technologies comparable to semiconductors, and U.S. export curbs recently targeted chips from Nvidia, that are used to coach artificial intelligence models.

During the Biden and Xi meeting, the 2 leaders “affirmed the necessity to handle the risks of advanced AI systems and improve AI safety through U.S.-China government talks,” based on a White House readout.

Smith and Wang’s meeting appears to have mirrored that.

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Meetings between U.S. technology firms and the Chinese government have develop into increasingly rare in recent times, as Washington-Beijing tensions ramped up. In addition, there are only a few U.S. tech firms operating in China, with the likes of Google parent Alphabet and Meta’s services blocked on this planet’s second-largest economy.

However, this 12 months, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China, which is the corporate’s third-largest market. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also made a visit to China, where the electrical carmaker has certainly one of its biggest factories. This has partly coincided with easier travel to China after the extreme Covid-19 restrictions that were lifted in 2022, in addition to Beijing’s desire to woo foreign businesses.

Smith said that Microsoft is willing to “actively take part in the digital transformation of China’s economy” and stays committed to promoting economic and trade cooperation between China and the U.S., based on the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Microsoft was not immediately available for comment concerning the meeting when contacted by CNBC.

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