OpenAI reportedly plans to block access in China. Chinese AI companies may fill the void.

OpenAI is reportedly planning to block API access in China, and Chinese companies are swooping in to fill the impending void.

According to Chinese state-owned newspaper Securities Times (via Reuters), users in China received an email saying they’re in a “‘region that OpenAI does not currently support’ and that additional measures to block API traffic from some regions would be taken starting July 9.”


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ChatGPT is not available in mainland China, but users have gotten around that by using the OpenAI API. According to Securities Times, many Chinese startups have built applications using the API.

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It’s unclear what prompted OpenAI to reportedly start restricting API access. But the company recently investigated and cut off five “covert influence operations.” One of these was a Chinese network called “Spamouflage” which reportedly used OpenAI models to research and generate social media posts targeting critics of the Chinese government. The Biden Administration has determined that generative AI models are a cybersecurity risk and has mandated security testing and evaluations of foundation models in the AI executive order.

As a result of the apparent move from OpenAI, Chinese companies with their own AI models have announced incentives to lure OpenAI users to their platforms. Per Reuters, Baidu is offering free migration to its Ernie chatbot with additional tokens for its flagship model Ernie 3.5. Similarly, Alibaba Cloud has offered free tokens and migration to its Qwen-plus model and Zhipu AI has launched a “Special Migration Program” for OpenAI API users, claiming its GLM model meets the same benchmarks as OpenAI’s models.

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