I think that AI perceive the world. Can an AI be sentient?
I'd call any system that receives input to be "perceiving", and that can constitute a basic definition of "awareness" or even "consciousness", distinct from "self-awareness" or consciousness in the human sense, which we tend to think of in terms of sentience.
What the Chinese Room seems to argue is that sentience is based on qualia, which may be difficult or impossible to validate in another entity. (With humans, we can assume another individual is sentient because we perceive ourselves to be sentient, and share the same medium of human brains and bodies.)
It seems increasingly likely that "algorithms sufficiently advanced" will one day be able to model human cognition, but the real question will be is it actual cognition in the sense of understanding, or mere imitation? ("Semantics" vs. "Syntactics")
The question and definition of sentience is less clear cut, but the argument re: algorithms relates to cognition thus:
"The lights may be on, but is anybody home?"
As long as you believe our sentience emerges from our brain that exists in our physical universe, yes, we can build AI that has the same type of sentience (the exact components needed to replicate our minds, e.g. whether software simulations are sufficient or not, can be debated). If you believe our sentience comes from a soul that is outside of our physical reality (in a reality we don't have full two-way access to), then no, not with means accessible from within our reality (not the same type of sentience as we have anyway).
P.S. Everything I know about the human mind, intelligence, perception, feelings, and qualia point to the former (i.e. a brain that's completely within our physical reality), but that's just my opinion and can be debated.
No, it cannot be sentient. This can be proved by the Chinese Room Argument given by the philosopher John Searle in 1980.