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Chinese AI Governance in Transition:

Past, Present and Future of Chinese AI Regulation

Julia Chen

July 2022

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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. 

Julia Chen

Julia is an Associate at Concordia Consulting, which aims to promote the safe and responsible development and deployment of artificial intelligence through working with partners and clients across China, Europe and the US. Based in Beijing since early 2019, she previously worked as a Research Manager in ByteDance’s Global Public Policy team. Before that, she was a Senior Policy Advisor in the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. 

Julia was a contributor to Asia Society’s series on “Exploring AI Issues Across the United States and China,” and a co-translator of Tencent’s “Artificial Intelligence: A National Strategic Initiative”. She has a BA in History from the University of Oxford.

Any views expressed in this chapter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of any entities she is associated with.