China Promulgated Framework Regulations on Generative Artificial Intelligence


Since ChatGPT was released, generative artificial intelligence (“AI”) has become the most popular topic all over the world. There is no doubt that generative AI is a useful and unprecedented technology development. However, it has also raised many ethic and legal concerns and calls for an effective and sufficient legal scheme for proper regulation. The Chinese government has made swift response to such technology development by promulgating the Interim Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services (“Interim Measures”), which came into effect on 15 August 2023. This is the first regulation relating to AI generated content worldwide. Please see below an overview on the key aspects of the Interim Measures.

1. Definition

The Interim Measures provide definitions of the three most important terms in the AI field as follows:

  • Generative AI technology refers to models and related technology that have the ability to generate text, images, audios, videos, or other content.
  • Generative AI service provider refers to any organization or individual that utilizes generative AI technology to provide generative AI services (including providing such services through the provision of a programmable interface or other means).
  • Generative AI service user refers to any organization or individual who uses generative AI services to generate content.

2. Application Scope

Basically, the Interim Measures shall apply to the utilization of all generative AI technology to provide generative AI services to the public within the territory of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”). However, for companies which provide generative AI services outside the territory of the PRC but to the public within the territory of the PRC, if they are not in compliance with PRC laws, administrative regulations, or the Interim Measures, the national cyberspace authority shall notify the relevant bodies to take technical measures and other necessary measures to deal with the matter. In practice, this means that generative AI services may be blocked in the PRC.

The following circumstances are explicitly excluded from the application scope of the Interim Measures, i.e. where industry organizations, enterprises, educational and scientific research institutions, public cultural institutions and relevant professional institutions research, develop, or apply generative AI technology but no generative AI services are provided to the public within the territory of the PRC.

3. General Obligations of Generative AI Service Providers

The Interim Measures provide general obligations that are mainly imposed on the providers of generative AI services.

a) Obligations during training and development of generative AI services

When carrying out data training and development, generative AI service providers shall comply with the following provisions:

(1) Use data and underlying models sourced from legitimate sources;

(2) Not infringe other’s intellectual property rights;

(3) Obtain the consent of the involved personal information subjects;

(4) Take effective measures to improve the quality of training data and to enhance the authenticity, accuracy, objectivity, and diversity of training data;

(5) Formulate clear labelling rules, carry out quality assessment and sampling inspections, and provide necessary training to the labelling staff for data labelling during the research and development of generative AI technology;

(6) Comply with other relevant provisions of PRC data laws and administrative regulations.

b) Obligations during provision of generative AI services

When providing generative AI services to the public, generative AI service providers shall comply with the following provisions:

(1) Assume responsibility as a producer of online information content and fulfil online information security obligations;

(2) Execute service agreements with users who register for the generative AI services to clarify the respective rights and obligations of both parties;

(3) Take effective measures to prevent minors from overreliance on or addiction to generative AI services;

(4) Fulfill the relevant legal requirements under PRC data laws, especially the personal information protection obligations under the PRC Personal Information Protection Law;

(5) Label images, videos, and other generated content in accordance with the Administrative Provisions on Deep Synthesis in Internet-based Information Services;

(6) Take prompt measures to remove illegal content, conduct model optimization training to make rectification, and to report the case to the relevant authority;

(7) Take prompt measures to stop illegal use of generative AI services by a user, keep relevant records and report the case to the relevant authority;

(8) Establish effective reporting mechanism to handle complaints from the public.

c) Administrative obligations

(1) Algorithms recordal

Companies providing generative AI services with features of spreading public opinions or with the capacity for social mobilization shall additionally conduct security assessments in accordance with relevant national regulations, and perform the record-filing for their algorithms in accordance with the Administrative Provisions on Recommendation Algorithms in Internet-based Information Services.

(2) Administrative license

The generative AI services providers shall obtain certain administrative licenses if it is required by relevant laws or administrative regulations. Notably, foreign investment in generative AI services shall comply with the laws and administrative regulations related to foreign investment. There have not been any specific restrictions on foreign investment for generative AI services so far. However, if the generative AI services are applied in those industries or areas where foreign investment is restricted, such as certain value-added telecommunication services, online audio-visual program services, internet culture operating services and Internet news information service, the relevant restrictions shall be observed accordingly.

(3) Cooperation with competent authority

The Interim Measures enable relevant authorities to supervise and inspect generative AI services. The generative AI services providers shall cooperate with the relevant authorities in accordance with the law, including explaining the source, scale, type, labelling rules, algorithm mechanism and other matters of their training data as required, and providing necessary technical and data support and assistance.

4. Conclusion

The Interim Measures are a milestone for Chinese legislative development on generative AI and have established the basic legal framework for providing generative AI services to the public within the territory of the PRC. However, the legal obligations stipulated under the Interim Measures are quite brief and need to be considered together with other PRC laws and regulations relating to data, algorithms and/or internet-based information services. For companies which plan to provide generative AI services to the Chinese market, it is advisable to conduct a comprehensive assessment on the provided generative AI services in order to determine the applicable obligations on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the draft of the PRC Artificial Intelligence Law is awaiting deliberation of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Therefore, we expect to see dynamic legislative developments in the area of artificial intelligence in the next few years, and, thus we recommend that companies active in this area shall pay close attention.