Academics, netizens and journalists have thus all played an important role in prompting local and national regulators to place stronger constraints around AI systems and the data they rely on.
This chapter examines how China’s approach to domestic AI regulation has developed since the 2017 publication of its New Generation AI Development Plan and considers how it might evolve in the coming few years. It describes how while the period from 2017 to 2020 mostly saw reliance on soft regulation, including self-regulation by AI companies, hard regulation from government actors increased between late 2020 and 2021. Eschewing a purely top-down narrative, it highlights how hard regulation was spurred partly by academics, netizens and media reports. At the same time, it acknowledges the role of policymakers’ desires to restrain the “wild growth” of internet platforms and steer resources towards applications of AI perceived as more socially and economically beneficial. The chapter concludes by considering the possible impacts and future directions of Chinese AI regulation.