Google’s search service may be banned in China but parent Alphabet Inc. is hunting for workers in a further sign it has ambitions in the world’s biggest internet market. At least 20 positions based in Beijing are advertised on the company’s careers site, spanning engineering and marketing to product managers. Multiple listings are shown in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Some of the jobs were first flagged in May by Jia Li, Google’s head of machine learning and AI research and development, when the company hosted a summit on the field in the historic Chinese town of Wuzhen. There has long been speculation that Google wants to get its search engine back up in China, the biggest hole in its global dominance of web advertising.
Among the specific machine learning roles the company is seeking to fill are a software engineer, technical lead and research scientist, according to listings on the Mountain View, California-based company’s website. The company is also seeking to hire workers in Shanghai and Guangzhou. Google defied the Chinese government in 2010 when it said it would no longer self-censor content and redirected mainland users to an unfiltered Hong Kong site. Its search engine and most of the company’s other services, such as Gmail, were later blocked even as its Android grew to become the country’s most popular mobile software.
The company has been seeking to promote use of its TensorFlow AI tools in China. Google isn’t the only U.S. company with services locked out in China, with Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. among those blocked on the mainland. While its social network is banned, Facebook is said to have released a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons in May.