BEIJING (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google said on Wednesday it is opening an artificial intelligence (AI) research center in China to target the country’s local talent, even as the U.S. search firm’s products remain blocked in the country.

Google said in a statement the research center is the first of its kind in Asia and will comprise a small team operating out of its existing office in Beijing.

Chinese policy makers have voiced strong support for AI research and development in the country, but have imposed increasingly strict rules on foreign firms in the past year, including new censorship restrictions.

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