top of page
  • InduQin

Can AI give China the upper hand to surpass the US and become the world’s top economy after ChatGPT

When the San Francisco-based OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT to the market in November, hailed as the so-called iPhone moment for artificial intelligence (AI), it cast a shadow across the Pacific.

China’s internet giants, though, have been quick on the uptake. Baidu launched its Ernie bot in March followed by Alibaba Cloud and Kunlun’s Tiangong in April. Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.

Smaller firms are also jumping on the bandwagon every day, with AI and its application increasingly the new lane of competition between China and the United States.

[We] have to be quick, to catch up with the times Zhou Feng

“[We] have to be quick, to catch up with the times,” Zhou Feng, CEO of NetEase’s translation software unit Youdao, said during an interview with domestic media DuoZhi earlier this month.

“What we are facing is a revolution at the technological level.”

The world’s two largest economies have already been fighting for economic supremacy with a tit-for-tat trade war, the US-led supply chain decoupling and tech containment in the past five years.

And while domestic academics largely estimate that China will overtake the US to become the world’s largest economy around 2030, the weak recovery from the impact of the coronavirus has raised speculation overseas that it may never happen, just like the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and Japan in the 1980s.

China is now seen to be betting on generative AI, regarding it as a strategic tool in the Fourth Industrial Revolution that would not only save the national economy haunted by a debt mountain, coronavirus-related aftershocks and demographic challenges, but also refuel its bid to topple the US.

“Developing big models of AI is a historic opportunity that China cannot afford to miss,” said Kai-Fu Lee, the former president of Google’s China operation.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another, according to the World Economic Forum. But it is about more than just technology-driven change, it added, as it is an opportunity to help everyone harness converging technologies to create an inclusive, human-centred future.

AI could lead to around US$13 trillion in additional global economic output by 2030, resulting in an overall 16 per cent increase in global gross domestic product (GDP), according to US global management consulting firm McKinsey.

The Chinese economy is so connected in all aspects that its government can do a better job than Western countries in facing resource deployment and work organisation Kai-Fu Lee

And professional services firm PwC believes that China will benefit the most from AI, with the technology contributing to a 26 per cent increase in its GDP by 2030.

Combined with the US, this would account for nearly 70 per cent of the global economic impact.

Beijing’s capacity to deploy its large and economically connected domestic market and talent flow could provide a stable base for the development of computing power, added Microsoft Research Asia founder Lee, who went on to open venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures in 2009.

“The Chinese economy is so connected in all aspects that its government can do a better job than Western countries in facing resource deployment and work organisation,” veteran observer Lee told the Zhongguancun Forum in Beijing at the end of last month.

AI has long been high on Beijing’s priority list, and it is considered as one of the core drivers for high-quality economic development, according to China’s 2021-25 development guidelines.


57 views0 comments


bottom of page