×

Trump's anti-China sentiment 'detrimental' to world, Baidu president says

  • Ya-Qin Zhang called the anti-China sentiment from the Donald Trump administration "detrimental" to the entire world.
  • However, Zhang said Baidu will continue to ramp up its investment in research and development in the U.S.
  • He added that Baidu would look to expand its driverless car product Apollo to the U.S.

The anti-China sentiment from Donald Trump's administration is "detrimental" to the entire world, the president of Chinese internet giant Baidu told CNBC on Wednesday.

Ya-Qin Zhang added, however, that Baidu's research investment in the U.S. will ramp up in 2018.

A number of Chinese firms have faced a tough time in the U.S. of late. Trump's government failed to approve Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial's acquisition of MoneyGram, while AT&T reportedly backed away from a deal to sell phones made by Chinese electronics giant Huawei.

In an exclusive interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Zhang criticized the anti-China sentiment.

"I am concerned," he said. "And you know some of the anti-China, anti-globalization sentiment, it is a detrimental to China, it is detrimental to the U.S. and the rest of the world.

"(But) I'm optimistic. I don't think the current policy or sentiment will last. America is a great country. It benefits from all the talent, the global talent and global technology, and I think it will continue to thrive that way."

Baidu has stepped up its presence in the U.S. recently. It has a research and development center in Silicon Valley focused on AI. The company also recently bought xPerception, a U.S. company that develops visual perception software and hardware, focused on driverless cars.

The Silicon Valley research center has around 200 employees, according to Zhang, who said that Baidu plans to increase this headcount.

"It will be bigger this year… we look at a increase of somewhere between 50 to 100 people," he said.

Baidu's core product is a search engine that is often dubbed the "Google of China." But its search product isn't present in the U.S. Instead, it has focused on driverless car and AI research, and also a number of mobile apps. The company's key driverless car software product is called Apollo, and Zhang said that Baidu could bring that to the U.S.

"We will try to expand Apollo to U.S.... The U.S. is obviously a critical market for us," Zhang said, adding that it will "take some time."