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Why Google CEO Sundar Pichai didn’t meet China’s Xi Jinping during US visit

While India awaits PM Narendra Modi’s first visit to Silicon Valley, Chinese president Xi Jinping is already visiting the US west coast, where he met several top tech executives.

Hosted at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington headquarters, the 8th US-China Internet Forum saw Xi meet the top executives of tech majors. Among those in attendance, apart from Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon co-founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, Cisco’s John Chambers, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, among others. China’s Jack Ma of Alibaba, Yang Yuanqing of Lenovo, Zhou Hongyi of Qihoo 360, Pony Ma of Tencent were also present at the event.

However, several top tech executives were missing at the event, most notably Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Google has had a contentious history in China and is currently banned in the country. This may be seen as one reason for the absence of the new Google chief, but a WSJ report citing an anonymous source says that he was not invited to the event.

According to a report by The Information earlier this month, Google is trying to make an entry to China by readying a censored version of its Play Store, thus abiding by the government’s requirements. However, if China indeed did not extend an invite to Pichai, it would suggest that Google has not made much headway in its talks with the world’s fastest growing internet market.

Pichai’s absence is compounded further by the presence of Zuckerberg, whose company Facebook is also banned in the country. Zuckerberg reportedly conversed with Xi in Mandarin only, which he speaks fluently.

But Pichai is not the only top tech executive who was missing from the meet, as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Uber chief Travis Kalanick were also not present. While Twitter is banned in China, whereas Chinese taxi app service provider Didi Kuaidi is investing heavily in ramping up the competition for Uber.

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