Chinese AI Firms Court OpenAI Users Amid Planned API Restrictions!

  • Editor
  • June 26, 2024

OpenAI plans to block people from using ChatGPT in China, a country where its services aren’t officially available but where users and developers access it via the company’s API anyway.

Securities Times, a Chinese state-owned newspaper, reported on Tuesday that OpenAI had started sending emails to users in China outlining its plans to block access starting July 9, according to Reuters.

“We are taking additional taps to block API traffic from regions where we do not support access to OpenAI’s services,” an OpenAI spokesperson told the publication. The move could impact several Chinese startups that have built applications using OpenAI’s large language models.

Although OpenAI’s services are available in more than 160 countries, China isn’t one of them. According to the company’s guidelines, users trying to access the company’s products in unsupported countries could be blocked or suspended — although the company hasn’t explicitly done so until now.

It’s not clear what prompted OpenAI’s move. Last month, the company revealed that it stopped covert influence operations — including one originating from China—using its AI models to spread disinformation across the internet.

Here’s what people worldwide have to say about this OpenAI step!

Bloomberg pointed out that OpenAI’s move coincides with Washington’s pressure on American tech companies to limit China’s access to cutting-edge technologies developed in the US.

The recent actions by OpenAI also involve a comprehensive crackdown on attempts from “unsupported countries and territories,” including mainland China and Hong Kong, to access its generative artificial intelligence services via application programming interfaces (APIs).

Chinese developers and users have been resorting to virtual private networks (VPNs) and third-party apps to access ChatGPT, while developers need to use proxies and outbound servers to bypass restrictions.

The tightening of these restrictions is anticipated to significantly impact Chinese companies developing services based on OpenAI’s large language models, further deepening the AI divide between China and the US.

In response to OpenAI’s new measures, several Chinese tech giants have stepped up to support affected users. Baidu’s cloud unit announced that it would provide additional tokens for its Ernie 3.5 flagship model, matching the scale of its OpenAI usage.

Tokens are units of text processed by AI models. Alibaba Cloud also joined in, offering free tokens and migration services for OpenAI API users through its AI platform.

The company’s Qwen-plus model is priced significantly lower than GPT-4, according to Alibaba. Zhipu AI, another major player in China’s AI sector, also announced a “Special Migration Program” for OpenAI API users. ”

Our GLM model fully benchmarks against OpenAI’s product ecosystem,” Zhipu AI said in a statement to developers seen by Reuters. “With our entirely self-developed technology, we ensure security and controllability.”

This development underscores the increasing difficulty for Chinese tech firms to keep pace with their international counterparts amid growing geopolitical tensions.

The US continues to advance in AI technology, while China faces escalating barriers to participating in this global innovation.

For more news and insights, visit AI News on our website.

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Dave Andre


Digital marketing enthusiast by day, nature wanderer by dusk. Dave Andre blends two decades of AI and SaaS expertise into impactful strategies for SMEs. His weekends? Lost in books on tech trends and rejuvenating on scenic trails.

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