Chinese Firms Launch ChatGPT | AI Chatbots with Government Approval
Five Chinese tech companies, including Baidu and SenseTime Group, have officially launched their artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to the public after receiving government clearance. China’s government is actively promoting the use of AI products to compete with the United States in this field.
Baidu, China’s top online search provider, has made its ChatGPT-like chatbot, Ernie Bot, fully accessible to the public. Similarly, SenseTime’s chatbot, SenseChat, is now available for all users. Three AI startups, Baichuan Intelligent Technology, Zhipu AI, and MiniMax, have also announced public launches for their chatbots.
Shares in Baidu and SenseTime saw gains in Hong Kong trade, rising 2.1 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, in contrast to the broader market, which was down by 0.55 percent.
In contrast to some other countries, China requires companies to undergo security assessments and gain government clearance before releasing mass-market AI products. Chinese authorities are intensifying their efforts to support AI development, recognizing its growing importance in global competition.
Chinese media reported that a total of 11 firms, including ByteDance (owner of TikTok) and Tencent Holdings, had received government approvals for AI products, but these companies have not yet commented on their AI plans.
Baidu’s CEO, Robin Li, stated that by making Ernie Bot widely accessible, Baidu aims to gather valuable real-world human feedback to enhance the chatbot further. Baidu also plans to release a series of “AI-native apps.”
The status of Alibaba’s AI product approval remains unclear. However, an Alibaba Cloud spokesperson mentioned that they have completed filings for their AI model, Tongyi Qianwen, and are awaiting its official launch. They anticipate that regulators will release a list of approved companies in the coming week.
Being the first to market is crucial in China’s competitive internet industry. Following the announcement, Baidu’s Ernie Bot topped the free app category on Apple’s App Store in China.
The recent approvals come after China implemented interim rules regulating public access to generative AI products on August 15. Under these rules, companies can conduct broader public tests of AI products without prior government approval, except for products targeting businesses.
Analysts suggest that the government’s move to approve AI products could lead to industry consolidation, as only companies with the necessary data and tech capabilities will be able to compete effectively in this space.