Google search is banned in China despite its availability in other parts of the world. Regardless, the tech giant is still looking for ways to stay relevant in one of the most populous and technology independent countries globally.

One of such ways is to open an Artificial Intelligence Centre in China. The facility will, according to Google, be the first of its kind in Asia, made up of a small team working on basic AI research from an existing office.

The announcement isn’t a sign that Google will be launching new services in China — or even rolling out its existing ones — anytime soon, but does demonstrate China’s appetite for research and development.

As Google’s chief AI scientist Fei-Fei Li said in the announcement blog post, “I am excited to launch the Google AI China Center, our first such centre in Asia, at our Google Developer Days event in Shanghai today. This Center joins other AI research groups we have all over the world, including in New York, Toronto, London and Zurich, all contributing towards the same goal of finding ways to make AI work better for everyone.

Focused on basic AI research, the Center will consist of a team of AI researchers in Beijing, supported by Google China’s strong engineering teams. We’ve already hired some top experts and will be working to build the team in the months ahead.

“Besides publishing its own work, the Google AI China Center will also support the AI research community by funding and sponsoring AI conferences and workshops, and working closely with the vibrant Chinese AI research community.”