Observers warn of risks of further 'de-coupling' following OpenAI suspending service
Published: Jun 26, 2024 08:46 PM
AI Photo: VCG

AI Photo: VCG

Following San Francisco-based OpenAI announcing plans to suspend services to Chinese developers, AI developers are turning to domestic alternatives. Industry observers warned that the US government engaging in strategic competition with China is escalating the "de-coupling" situation and hindering cooperation between general companies in both countries.

Starting from July 9, OpenAI will be taking additional measures to block API traffic from regions that are not on its supported countries and territories list. A total of 188 countries and regions currently support access to the API service, the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong are excluded. 

API is the abbreviation for Application Programming Interface, simply put, through which third-party developers can integrate capabilities developed by OpenAI into their applications and build their own AI software.

The US firm's action came after the US Department of the Treasury issued draft rules on June 22 for banning or requiring notification of certain investments in artificial intelligence and other technology sectors in China under the banner of safeguarding US national security.

The draft is believed to be part of the Biden administration's push to prevent the US from assisting China to develop sophisticated cutting-edge technology and hamper China's development. 

China's Commerce Ministry on Monday hit back at the US' plans to curb new US investment in critical Chinese tech industries, saying China firmly opposes the US' coercive move and reserves the right to take counter measures.

OpenAI's recent decision to restrict access may be a move to safeguard its own interests and competitiveness in the market. However, this action highlights the US government's engagement in strategic competition with China is influencing the decision-making of general companies, Zhu Rongsheng, an expert from Tsinghua University's Center for International Security and Strategy, said as he shared his insight with the Global Times.  

The US' growing protectionism and overstretched concept of national security, driven by political motivations, could be beefed up as the US election approaches, further causing "de-coupling" among companies, research institutes and the general public in both countries, Zhu warned.

Recently, the US has continuously used the "national security threat" rhetoric to stoke fears over Chinese products, in a bid to hinder China's industrial upgrading, reflecting the US mindset of hegemony, Liu Wei, Director of the human-machine interaction and cognitive engineering laboratory with the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, told the Global Times. 

Liu warned that when the US is restricting China's high-tech sector, it is hurting its own interests. 

Following the OpenAI restricting Chinese access to its products, some 10 domestic large model companies have announced the provision of relocation services, according to media reports. 

Alibaba Cloud has announced plans to provide OpenAI API users with a more cost-effective alternative solution using Chinese large models. Chinese developers will be offered 22 million free tokens.

Start-ups Zhifu AI announced that they will offer developers 150 million tokens and a series of training to help their relocation from OpenAI to its ChatGLM language model. MINIMAX has introduced a "zero-cost nanny-style relocation plan," providing platform interface adaptation for OpenAI and free use of the MOE architecture large model. 

Additionally, Moonshot AI emphasized in a statement that its Kimi large language model (LLM) opens API service that is fully compatible with OpenAI, allowing for a smooth relocation in as fast as five minutes.

The Global Times found that industry observers generally believed the suspension of service from OpenAI will promote the market share of domestic large model companies in the short term, and their prices are more competitive compared with OpenAI.

Zhou Hongyi, founder and chairman of 360 Security Technology, believes the suspension of services from OpenAI will speed up the development of China's own LLMs. There are narrowing gaps between the two and the trend of using domestic products as a replacement will be more secure, Zhou said.