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A Red Flag? China’s Generative AI Dilemma


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Gilad Abiri is an Assistant Professor of Law at Peking University School of Transnational Law, and an Affiliate Fellow at the Information Society Project of Yale Law School. He holds a J.S.D. and L.L.M. from Yale Law School.

Yue Huang is an Assistant Professor of Law at Guangzhou University. He holds a J.S.D. and L.L.M. from Yale Law School.

The authors thank Sun Fanshu for her invaluable help with researching and finalizing this Note.

We are currently faced with a generative artificial intelligence (“AI”) dilemma. All jurisdictions must weigh the potential for tremendous economic and scientific progress on the one hand, while on the other, they must consider the very real possibility of severe social and political upheaval. This includes the mass dissemination of misinformation, the perpetuation of bias, the endangering of jobs, and the stoking of fears surrounding an AI apocalypse.

The way the great powers of the internet — the United States, the European Union, and China — choose to regulate generative AI will undoubtedly seriously impact our lives and politics.

China is the first power to move. This Note investigates the People’s Republic of China’s forthcoming generative AI regulatory measures, which went into effect on August 15, 2023. We contend that this regulation signifies a cautious decision, motivated mainly by internal political reasons, to decelerate the development of generative AI within China. Chinese regulators view this calculated slowdown as a response to the risks of generative AI.

China’s move to affirmatively regulate generative AI will have global implications — notably, its potential ability to mitigate the international “race to the bottom” in generative AI development. This result is not just welcome but a necessary precondition for the responsible advancement of AI. China’s choice, inadvertently, serves to grant the rest of the world a much-needed respite for contemplating the regulation of generative AI.