All tech companies in China have been banned from offering ChatGPT or related services through their platforms. The state media has explicitly said that the US-based ChatGPT is spreading misinformation that could be detrimental to Chinese sovereignty.
On February 20, the state-owned media China Daily posted on Weibo 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.
The Chinese government has specifically instructed tech giants like Tencent and Alibaba group to stop offering ChatGPT services on their platforms either directly or via a third party.
Also, the government has announced that any company that wishes to launch a chatbot or related Artificial Intelligence service should first report to regulators and get their permission. Without permission, nobody will be allowed to launch ChatGPT-style services in China.
ChatGPT the fastest-growing app in human history has become a sensation in China. Though the app is not officially available in the country, many users have accessed ChatGPT using the VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Some third-party developers have also released mini-programs that claim to offer partial services from ChatGPT. These programs have been extensively floated on WeChat (China’s equivalent to WhatsApp owned by Tencent).
After the announcement of the new regulations, Tencent banned all the parties who provide ChatGPT and related services in China. The company which has already seen the wrath of the Chinese regulators in its gaming sector does not want to take any more chances against the government. Hence, it has blanket banned all ChatGPT programs and other services that have even a slight resemblance to the ChatBot or its AI system.
Why China will never accept ChatGPT?
It is not a surprise that the Chinese government is coming hard on tech companies. The government which is famous for its internet censorship and control will never allow an Artificial Intelligence program like ChatGPT gain access in the country. ChatGPT made by the US company Open-AI is a continuously learning and evolving AI and cannot be easily controlled by an entity.
ChatGPT recently created a list of controversial people which included famous personalities like Elon Musk, Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It also gave a negative rating to the communist party.
— Isaac Latterell (@IsaacLatterell) February 19, 2023
If allowed in China, it is inevitable that people would ask politically sensitive questions to ChatGPT. The responses to such questions may not be acceptable to the government. However, the service provider or platform will be held responsible for the issue. Hence many tech companies are already staying away from ChatGPT and related services.
ChatGPT Rivals in China
Though ChatGPT will be never allowed in China, the government is keenly watching tech giants like Alibaba and Baidu, who have promised to launch their own versions of Chatbots similar to ChatGPT. The Chinese internet technology company NetEase Inc and the e-commerce platform JD.com have also announced their plans to create ChatGPT rivals.
Last week, Fudan University in Shanghai launched the ChatGPT rival app called MOSS for public testing. Baidu is all set to complete the internal testing of its version of the ChatGPT app called ‘Ernie Bot’ by March. JD.com (Jindong) is also working on its own version of the chatbot called ChatJD.
Chinese tech companies have assured the government, that their apps will have nothing to do with ChatGPT and their services may not necessarily be a Chatbot but rather some embedded features of the AI that can be controlled as per regulations.