Baidu’s Robin Li shrugs off impact of US-China trade war

04/3 2019 14:15

AI and the broader ‘Made in China 2025’ policy plan have become embroiled in simmering tensions between the US and China over trade

Baidu chief executive Robin Li Yanhong has played down the impact of the US-China trade war on the company’s operations at this week’s annual gathering of national legislative and political advisory bodies, known as the “two sessions”, saying he hoped there would be more collaboration on new technologies in future.

Speaking on the sidelines of the gathering that kicked off on Sunday, delegate Li, who is the billionaire founder of online search engine giant Baidu, said there had been no impact from the trade dispute so far.

“Because we have no major business in the US, we mostly do research and development there and we have a lot of communication with our peers in the US,” Li said, adding that the search giant and national artificial intelligence (AI) champion has hired a lot of “excellent” engineers locally for its US research and development centre, and has cooperated with many US counterparts.

“I am more familiar with AI, an area where both China and the US enjoy leading positions,” he said, when asked about technology and the impact of the trade tensions. “There is some competition in the field, and also plenty of opportunities for collaboration.”

“In the future, we do hope the two countries will not engage in a protracted trade war and instead engage in more collaboration and healthy competition,” he said.

AI and the broader “Made in China 2025” policy plan have become embroiled in simmering tensions between the US and China over trade. Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for deeper integration between the real economy and advanced technologies, including the ‘internet of things’, big data and AI and the ruling Communist Party released a three-step road map in July 2017 with the goal of making the country a global leader in AI by 2030.