Microsoft CEO Brad Smith attends a meeting at the Westin Palace Hotel in Madrid, Spain, on May 20, 2022.

Cezaro De Luca | Europa Press | Getty Images

According to a Chinese government announcement translated by Youdao, Microsoft President Brad Smith met with China’s Trade Minister Wang Wentao on Wednesday to discuss topics ranging from artificial intelligence to trade relations between Washington and Beijing.

The meeting underscores China’s attempt to show that it remains positive about American companies amid ongoing tensions with the United States and wants to revive its economy.

Notably, Smith and Wang’s engagement comes after the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month – a gesture that commentators say shows China and the US are trying to work together in areas of potential . It also signaled a desire to improve the environment for foreign companies.

During the meeting, Wang said China is committed to providing better services to foreign companies, according to a statement from the country’s Ministry of Commerce. The statement said the Commerce Department hopes Microsoft will play a “constructive role” in China-US cooperation in artificial intelligence

Microsoft is considered one of the leading players in artificial intelligence, especially after its reported multi-billion dollar investment in ChatGPT developer OpenAI earlier this year.

China’s own tech giants – from Alibaba to Baidu to Tencent – have also launched their own AI models and competing products.

Technology has been a point of contention between the US and China in recent years. Washington has sought to limit China’s access to key technologies such as semiconductors, and U.S. export restrictions recently targeted Nvidia chips used to train artificial intelligence models.

During the meeting between Biden and Xi, the two leaders reiterated “the need to address the risks of advanced AI systems and improve AI security through government-to-government discussions between the US and China,” according to a statement from the White House.

The meeting between Smith and Wang appears to have reflected this.

Meetings between U.S. technology companies and the Chinese government have become increasingly rare in recent years as tensions between Washington and Beijing have risen. Additionally, very few U.S. tech firms operate in China, with the services of companies like Google parent Alphabet and Meta blocked in the world’s second-largest economy.

However, this year Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China, the company’s third-largest market. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also traveled to China, where the electric car maker has one of its largest factories. This partly coincided with the ease of travel to China following strict Covid-19 restrictions that were lifted in 2022, as well as Beijing’s desire to attract foreign companies.

Smith said Microsoft is willing to “actively participate in the digital transformation of China’s economy” and remains committed to promoting China-US economic and trade cooperation, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

When contacted by CNBC, Microsoft was not immediately able to comment on the meeting.

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