Chinese scholars unveil draft on artificial intelligence law
Published: Mar 17, 2024 08:42 PM
AI Photo: VCG

AI Photo: VCG

On Saturday, Chinese scholars unveiled a preliminary proposal draft in Beijing that could potentially shape the nation's forthcoming artificial intelligence (AI) law. 

The proposal draft pays attention to the development issues of industrial practice in the three areas of data, computing power and algorithms, Zhao Jingwu, an associate professor from BeiHang University Law School, told the Global Times. 

Zhao said that the proposal also introduces the AI insurance system that encourages the intervention of the insurance market through policy incentives, exploring insurance products suitable for the AI industry. In addition, it proposes the enhancement of citizens' digital literacy, aiming to prevent and control the security risks of the technology from the user end.

The introduction of the proposal draft can respond to and prevent security risks, guide and regulate the healthy, orderly and benevolent development of China's AI industry. It also demonstrates China's proposition and wisdom in AI governance at the international level, Zhang Linghan, one of the leading scholars of the proposal draft, from China University of Political Science and Law and also one of the only two Chinese experts being enrolled into the UN High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, told the Global Times.

The main content of the draft includes development and promotion, rights protection, security obligations, supervision and management, special application scenarios, international cooperation, and legal responsibilities. 

China has been ramping up its efforts in rolling out the AI law in both industrial and academic circles. Zhang said that she believes this draft provides directions for future legislation of AI in China.

Prior to the passing of an important law, two or three versions of proposed drafts are provided by scholars. The group of scholars involved in drafting the proposal this time includes representatives from seven universities and research institutions in China, all of whom have experiences in legislative participation, the Global Times learnt.

China has been at the forefront of AI governance, implementing a range of regulations on AI. The country has clearly included the "artificial intelligence law" in the legislative plan in the "State Council's Legislative Work Plan for 2023."

Last week, the European Parliament made a significant move by voting to adopt the AI Act, which is regarded as the world's first comprehensive AI law.

Given the different values, cultural norms, regulatory systems and industrial ecology between China and the European Union, the proposal draft proposes a Chinese solution that differs from the legislative system and approach of the EU, Cheng Ying, a senior engineer from China Academy of Information and Communication Technology, told the Global Times.

The proposal insists on promoting industrial development while balancing development and security, whereas the EU deviates from industrial practice and follows a traditional approach of comprehensive and strict government regulation, Cheng noted. 

In terms of risk classification, the EU has made a four-level risk classification, explicitly prohibiting some AI applications, with high-risk AI covering eight application areas, while the proposal only focuses on regulating key AI and limits certain scope of key AI, Cheng said. 

The proposal also makes requirements for rational use of data, ownership of intellectual property rights, and specific industry applications, addressing the pain points and difficulties in the development of the AI industry, while the EU act does not address these issues, according to Cheng. 

The EU's AI Act is believed to set a higher entry threshold for large Chinese and US enterprises to enter EU market. Cheng told the Global Times that the EU unilaterally established legal systems in AI governance, forming a "Brussels Effect" on the global business environment and rules system, in order to gain negotiation capital in the future. 

However, the EU also faces strong demands for prospering AI industries in some member states. In this regard, the bloc is actually seeking a "very delicate balance" in disputes and compromises in AI governance, Cheng told the Global Times, adding that it is expected to face significant coordination difficulties and implementation obstacles in the future.

Based on the consensus that globalization is the key to maintaining AI as a healthy prospect, the proposal draft states that companies can legally develop, provide and use AI products and services in China. 

Foreign market entities are welcome to participate in the development and provision of AI products and services in China in accordance with the law, without any additional obligations beyond current foreign investment laws and regulations for foreign companies, said Xu Xiaoben from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.