According to a Nikkei Asia report, regulators told major Chinese technology firms not to offer ChatGPT services to the public either directly or via third parties. It named Tencent Holdings and Ant Group, a subsidiary of Jack Ma's Alibaba, as the subjects of Beijing's admonishment. Internal sources also told Nikkei Asia that tech companies will also need to report to regulators before launching their own ChatGPT-like services.
In a Feb. 20 post on Weibo – the Chinese version of Twitter – state-owned media outlet China Daily warned against the dangers of ChatGPT. The media outlet claimed that the chatbot "could provide a helping hand to the U.S. government in its spread of disinformation and its manipulation of global narratives for its own geopolitical interests."
Chinese tech industry pundits were not surprised by the central government in Beijing cracking down on ChatGPT.
One executive from a leading tech company told Nikkei Asia: "Our understanding, from the beginning, is that ChatGPT can never enter China due to issues with censorship. China will need its own versions of ChatGPT."
Another executive remarked that even without a direct warning from the CCP, his company would not make use of ChatGPT.
"Even if there were no such ban, we would never take the initiative to add ChatGPT to our platforms because its responses are uncontrollable," they said. "There will inevitably be some users who ask the chatbot politically sensitive questions, but the platform would be held accountable for the results."
In spite of the CCP's warning, users have found a workaround through the use of a virtual private network and dozens of "mini programs" released by third-party developers. These programs on the WeChat social media app by Tencent claim to offer services from ChatGPT.
Under the CCP, China is one of the world's most restrictive regimes. The party even blocked certain websites and online services in the country, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, Wikipedia and several Google services. Add ChatGPT to that list. (Related: Chinese censorship rising quickly as era of a single, global internet draws to a close.)
Interestingly, Chinese tech firms are also developing their own versions of the AI chatbot, according to CNBC.
Alibaba announced via its Alibaba Cloud subsidiary that it is working on a ChatGPT-style of technology that could be incorporated into its cloud computing products. Rival e-commerce firm JD.com also announced an "industrial version" of ChatGPT called ChatJD that will focus on applications in the retail and finance sectors.
Meanwhile, the Hangzhou-based NetEase said its education subsidiary Youdao has been working on generative AI. This technology, which creates new content based on data fed to it, could be integrated into some of Youdao's education products.
According to CNBC, the companies have spoken about AI chatbots in application-specific scenarios. But for Paul Triolo, the technology policy head for consulting form Albright Stonebridge, this had a certain purpose.
"Given all the regulatory focus on both tech platforms and AI algorithms over the past year by a range of government bodies, the Big Tech platforms are not eager to draw attention to themselves by putting out a chatbot [or] generative AI tool that gets them in hot water," he said.
Triolo also remarked that he "would not be surprised" if ChatGPT is prohibited entirely in China. "ChatGPT poses some unique challenges for Beijing. The app, trained on Western uncensored data, represents a more powerful type of search engine than Google or others that are also uncensored outside of China," he said.
Watch G News founder Miles Guo elaborate on ChatGPT's different answers about who he is in Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese below.
This video is from the Chinese taking down EVIL CCP channel on Brighteon.com.