Despite not being officially available in China, the AI chatbot service ChatGPT has dominated headlines in the country. This week, days after search engine giant Baidu announced it will launch its own ChatGPT-like service in March, at least five other major Chinese tech firms revealed plans to tool up with the powerful AI technology. 

Starting with Alibaba, the e-commerce giant Alibaba said it is developing its own AI chatbot. NetEase’s online learning unit Youdao said it will launch a similar AI service focused on the education industry, and JD, another e-commerce major, boasted that its rich experience in AI means it can soon incorporate these technologies into its services. 

Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that can answer natural language questions with human-like responses. It is built on GPT-3, the third iteration of a language model trained on a large amount of data. 

The feverish popularity of ChatGPT has sent investors chasing related stocks on China’s stock market. The market is already experiencing a boost in so-called “ChatGPT concept stocks.” 

On Chinese social and search platforms, ChatGPT has also become the top search keyword. On Feb. 4, daily searches for “ChatGPT” on WeChat increased 515.7% to nearly 38 million, and the search volume kept growing rapidly in the following days,  seeing 2.5 times the number or 95 million searches only five days later. 

As advanced AI technology gains momentum to disrupt the status quo, Chinese tech companies are not the only ones racing to prove their ChatGPT-like abilities. Google introduced on Tuesday its AI chatbot Bard,  while ChatGPT’s main investor Microsoft launched a new version of its search engine Bing on Tuesday with ChatGPT built in. 

Baidu: Baidu said on Tuesday that it will launch its own AI chatbot tool called “ERNIE bot” or Wenxin Yiyan in Chinese. The bot will be built based on the company’s large language model ERNIE, which was launched in 2019. Some see Baidu’s service as the most likely one to come close to ChatGPT. 

NetEase: NetEase’s online education team Youdao said it has been working on applying AIGC (AI-generated content) technology to teaching scenarios such as AI oral English teaching and Chinese essay revision. The company expects to launch a relevant demo version of the product soon, which will mark the first landing of AIGC technology and a ChatGPT-like model in China’s online education scene.

iFlytek: Responding to investors’ questions, the company that specializes in speech recognition and natural language processing technologies said it has a solid accumulation of relevant AI technology. For example, in 2022, iFlytek won first place in the authoritative evaluation of several cognitive intelligence fields such as CommonsenseQA 2.0 and OpenBookQA. Meanwhile, iFlytek has developed a series of pre-training language models which include 40 general fields of cognitive intelligence.

Alibaba: The online retail major said on Wednesday that it’s conducting internal testing on a ChatGPT-like service, and the tool is likely to be used in combination with the group’s workplace communication and collaboration tool DingTalk.

JD: Beijing-based e-commerce platform JD said it sees ChatGPT as an “exciting and cutting-edge exploration,” adding it will incorporate the related methods and technology into its products, especially in customer service.

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]

Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail: