Baidu and SenseTime Receive Approval for AI Services in China

China has granted approval for the public rollout of generative artificial intelligence (AI) services, allowing homegrown technology giants Baidu and SenseTime to compete with global players like OpenAI and Microsoft. The Cyberspace Administration of China has given the green light to a select group of firms, including both established and emerging players in the AI field.

Baidu, the leading search engine in China, was among the first companies to receive approval from Beijing’s top internet watchdog. It announced that its ChatGPT rival, Ernie Bot, will be available to the public starting on August 31. Additionally, Baidu will be releasing a range of new applications for users to experience generative AI.

The approval of these services marks a significant milestone for China’s growing AI industry and its ambitions to become a leader in the field. Chinese companies have invested billions of dollars into developing AI capabilities that can compete with global tech giants such as Microsoft and Google.

The Chinese government recognizes the strategic importance of AI both from a business and political perspective. Baidu’s Ernie Bot, which was launched in March, has gained significant attention. However, other major players like Alibaba and Tencent have also been actively promoting their own AI models.

While Baidu and SenseTime are the first companies to receive approval, it is unclear which other firms have been granted similar permissions. The Chinese government’s focus on AI is part of its broader tech agenda to revive the economy, and it views AI as crucial for driving innovation and economic growth.

The new regulations implemented in China require generative AI services to undergo clearance before being made available to domestic users. These regulations aim to balance content control with the development and competitiveness of the AI industry. Services with potential influence on public perception must pass a security review and disclose their algorithms for record-keeping.

It remains to be seen whether Chinese-made generative AI services can reach the level of popularity enjoyed by apps like Tencent’s WeChat. The shortage of advanced chips due to US sanctions has also posed challenges for Chinese tech firms in training their AI models.

Overall, the approval of Baidu’s Ernie Bot and other generative AI services signals China’s endorsement of the AI industry and its commitment to fostering innovation in this field.


1. What is generative artificial intelligence (AI)?

Generative AI refers to AI models and systems that can generate new content, such as text, images, or music, based on patterns and examples it has learned.

2. How did Baidu and SenseTime receive approval for their AI services?

Baidu and SenseTime obtained approval from the Cyberspace Administration of China, the top internet watchdog in Beijing. The government granted clearance to a select group of firms to publicly roll out their generative AI services.

3. What are the regulations for generative AI services in China?

According to the new regulations, generative AI services in China must undergo clearance before being made available to domestic users. Services that can potentially influence public perception must also pass a security review and disclose their algorithms for record-keeping.

4. How does the Chinese government view AI?

The Chinese government considers AI to be both a business and political imperative. It recognizes the transformative potential of AI technology and aims to leverage it for economic growth and innovation.

5. Are there any challenges for Chinese tech firms in developing AI?

Chinese tech firms have faced challenges due to US sanctions that have limited their access to advanced chips, which are essential for training AI models. This has created a gap between Chinese-made AI services and their western counterparts.