China

With the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the regulatory frameworks for AI in the Asia–Pacific (APAC) region continue to develop quickly. Policymakers and regulators have been prompted to consider either reviewing existing regulatory frameworks to ensure their effectiveness in addressing emerging risks brought by AI, or proposing new, AI-specific rules or regulations. Overall, there appears to be a trend across the region to promote AI uses and developments, with most jurisdictions focusing on high-level and principle-based guidance. While a few jurisdictions are considering regulations specific to AI, they are still at an early stage. Further, privacy regulators and some industry regulators, such as financial regulators, are starting to play a role in AI governance.

This blog post provides an overview of various approaches in regulating AI and managing AI-related risks in the APAC region.  

  • AI-Specific Laws and Regulations

Several jurisdictions in the region are moving toward AI-specific regulations, including the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as China), South Korea, and Taiwan.

  • China has been most active in shaping regulations specific to generative AI technologies since 2023. It has taken a multifaceted approach that combines AI-specific regulations, national standards and technical guidance to govern generative AI services and the regulatory focus has been on services that are provided to the public in China. The Interim Administrative Measures for Generative Artificial Intelligence Services represent a milestone as the first comprehensive regulation specifically addressing generative AI services (a summary of this regulation can be found in our previous post here). Several non-binding technical documents and national standards have been issued or are being drafted to further implement this regulation. Prior to the regulation that specifically addresses generative AI services, China had issued regulations for deep synthesis and algorithmic recommendations. Further, China promulgated rules on conducting an ethical review of scientific activities involving generative AI.
  • Beyond a few provisions on narrow aspects scattered in other regimes, South Korea does not presently have a comprehensive AI-specific regulatory framework. Proposed in early 2023, the draft Act on Fostering the AI Industry and Securing Trustworthy AI remains currently pending before the National Assembly. If enacted, it would set out the first comprehensive legislative framework governing the usage of AI in South Korea, generally reflecting an approach that would permit AI usage and developments subject to subsequent safeguards if and as needed. In parallel, the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) has been advocating for a flexible approach to AI based on self-regulation, with support from the PIPC. Furthermore, the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) will soon start a detailed study to identify potential AI-induced risks in terms of consumer protection as well as unfair or anti-competitive practices, which might result in KFTC-supervised self-regulation of certain AI aspects through industry codes of conduct supplemented by a set of guidelines on AI, or even proposed legislation or amendments to existing consumer protection or antitrust rules. 
  • Similarly, Taiwan is drafting a basic law governing AI, i.e., the Basic Law for Development of Artificial Intelligence, which will set out fundamental principles for AI development and for the government to promote the development of AI technologies. However, it is still uncertain whether and when Taiwan will pass this draft law.
  • Non-binding AI Principles and Guidelines

Continue Reading Overview of AI Regulatory Landscape in APAC

The field of artificial intelligence (“AI”) is at a tipping point. Governments and industries are under increasing pressure to forecast and guide the evolution of a technology that promises to transform our economies and societies. In this series, our lawyers and advisors provide an overview of the policy approaches and regulatory frameworks for AI in jurisdictions around the world. Given the rapid pace of technological and policy developments in this area, the articles in this series should be viewed as snapshots in time, reflecting the current policy environment and priorities in each jurisdiction.

The following article examines the state of play in AI policy and regulation in China. The previous articles in this series covered the European Union and the United States.

On the sidelines of November’s APEC meetings in San Francisco, Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping agreed that their nations should cooperate on the governance of artificial intelligence. Just weeks prior, President Xi unveiled China’s Global Artificial Intelligence Governance Initiative to world leaders, the nation’s bid to put its stamp on the global governance of AI. This announcement came a day after the Biden Administration revealed another round of restrictions on the export of advanced AI chips to China.

China is an AI superpower. Projections suggest that China’s AI market is on track to exceed US$14 billion this year, with ambitions to grow tenfold by 2030. Major Chinese tech companies have unveiled over twenty large language models (LLMs) to the public, and more than one hundred LLMs are fiercely competing in the market.

Understanding China’s capabilities and intentions in the realm of AI is crucial for policymakers in the U.S. and other countries to craft effective policies toward China, and for multinational companies to make informed business decisions. Irrespective of political differences, as an early mover in the realm of AI policy and regulation, China can serve as a repository of pioneering experiences for jurisdictions currently reflecting on their policy responses to this transformative technology.

This article aims to advance such understanding by outlining key features of China’s emerging approach toward AI.Continue Reading Spotlight Series on Global AI Policy — Part III: China’s Policy Approach to Artificial Intelligence

In previous blogs, we have written about the EU-China relationship and how the EU was increasingly focused on delivering its policy of Strategic Autonomy. We are beginning to see the concrete implementation of this strategic intent, with the EU Commission approving a €902 million German State aid measure to support the construction of an electric vehicle battery production plant.  As Margrethe Vestager, EVP for Competition Policy noted, this is the first individual aid to have been approved under the Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework since March 2023 and its approval will keep the battery plant in the EU, rather than it moving to the US.

And the EU is planning to take further measures to enhance and protect its economic security in pursuit of the goal of strategic autonomy. On December 10, the Commission unveiled its Agenda outlining for items to be addressed in early 2024. Of note is the European Economic Security Package (EESP), due for discussion on 24 January.

It had been planned to adopt the EESP by the end of 2023.  However, its adoption faced delays due to Member States’ concerns about ceding authority to Brussels in an area traditionally reserved for national competence. For its part, the Commission argues that a “Europeanization” of the EU trade rules was required to ensure consistency across the bloc following decisions by various Member States to issue their own trade measures (for example, on export controls).

Although full details of the EESP have not yet been released, key components of the EESP will include a revision of the Foreign Direct Investment Screening Regulation and an initiative regulating outbound investments. The Agenda for 24 January also includes a non-binding Communication restricting export of dual-use items.Continue Reading The European Economic Security Package

On December 12, the U.S. House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (the “Select Committee”) adopted a broad set of policy recommendations intended to reduce the United States’ economic and technological ties with China across a broad swath of the economy.

The Select Committee passed the 53-page report, containing 130 recommendations, on a bipartisan, though not unanimous, voice vote.  The report is organized around three pillars:

  1. “Reset the Terms of Our Economic Relationship with the PRC,” emphasizing the scope of the United States’ strategic dependence on China;
  2. “Stem the Flow of U.S. Capital and Technology Fueling the PRC’s Military Modernization and Human Rights Abuses,” which calls for increasingly hawkish trade and investment-review policies; and
  3. “Invest in Technological Leadership and Build Collective Economic Resilience in Concert with Allies,” focused on strengthening the workforce, critical supply chains, and related capabilities.

The report urges Congress and the Administration to deploy a variety of tools to compete with China, including by building on the Biden Administration’s recent executive orders on artificial intelligence and outbound investment.  With respect to trade, the Select Committee recommends implementing stricter export controls and moving China to a new tariff column, effectively revoking its permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status.  Furthermore, the report calls for broadly expanding authorities for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), as well as for investments in international economic development to counter China’s efforts to influence the economic affairs of trading partners through its Belt and Road initiative.  The report recommends several steps to protect U.S. innovators from intellectual-property-related abuses and sanction companies in China that threaten U.S. national security.Continue Reading House Select Committee report urges “new path” for economic engagement with China

On September 28, 2023, the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”) issued draft Provisions on Standardizing and Promoting Cross-Border Data Flows (Draft for Comment) (规范和促进数据跨境流动规定(征求意见稿)) (draft “Provisions”) (Chinese version available here) for a public consultation, which will conclude on October 15, 2023. 

The draft Provisions propose significant changes to the existing

Following our recent overview of key topics to watch in the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2024, available here, we continue our coverage with a “deep dive” into NDAA provisions related to the People’s Republic of China (“China” or “PRC”) in each of the House and Senate bills.  DoD’s focus on strengthening U.S. deterrence and competitive positioning vis-à-vis China features prominently in the 2022 National Defense Strategy (“NDS”) and in recent national security discourse.  This focus is shared by the Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (“Select Committee”), led by Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). 

It is no surprise, then, that House and Senate versions of the NDAA include hundreds of provisions—leveraging all elements of national power—intended to address what the NDS brands as China’s “pacing” challenge, including many grounded in Select Committee policy recommendations.  Because the NDAA is viewed as “must-pass” legislation, it has served in past years as a vehicle through which other bills not directly related to DoD are enacted in law.  In one respect, this year is no different—the Senate version of the NDAA incorporates both the Department of State and Intelligence 2024 Authorization bills, each of which includes provisions related to China. 

To get a flavor of the approach to China in this year’s NDAA, look no further than the “Ending China’s Developing Nation Status Act” in Section 1399L of the Senate bill, which would require U.S. opposition to granting China “developing nation” status in treaties under negotiation and by international organizations of which the U.S. and China are members, such as the World Trade Organization.  Classification as a “developing nation” affords China access to preferential loans and other economic benefits intended to increase trading opportunities, notwithstanding its current status as an upper-middle income country (as determined by the World Bank), and the world’s second largest economy, trailing only the U.S.  Not to be outdone, Section 155 of the House bill contains a provision mandating expedited deployment of advanced radars to track high-altitude balloons and other potential threats to the U.S., in direct response to the incident earlier this year in which a Chinese balloon flew across the U.S. before being shot down by the Air Force.

Given these provisions, and many more (some we discuss below), this year’s NDAA strikes us as different.  It incorporates many more China-related provisions and many of these would impose greater obligations on government contractors to limit their interactions with the PRC and entities affiliated with the PRC Government.  Whether the laundry list of China-related provisions in the current NDAA survive, and in what form, will be determined by the conference process currently underway.  But these provisions have the potential to impose significant near-term burdens on contractors—requiring them to assess their obligations and make adjustments to ensure compliance.  Indeed, these provisions may be far more disruptive than requirements imposed by prior year NDAA China provisions that contractors have navigated by reassessing supply chains and increasing due diligence.  All government contractors and suppliers to government contractors with any connection to China would be well advised to monitor how the NDAA conference approaches resolution of this legislation over the coming months.Continue Reading Not to Be Outpaced: NDAA Presents Measures Addressing China

Earlier this month the Biden Administration released its long-anticipated Executive Order on Addressing United States Investments in Certain National Security Technologies and Products in Countries of Concern (“EO”), which imposes (1) prohibitions on certain outbound investments in the semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and artificial intelligence sectors, and (2) mandatory notification requirements for a

Introduction

In early 2023, two final judgments in three related intellectual property matters were made public by the Supreme People’s Court of China (the “SPC”).[1] These judgments represent a significant development in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (“IPRs”) in China, with particular implications for foreign-invested enterprises. This article provides a brief review of these high-profile cases and offers recommendations for foreign companies navigating the commercial landscape in China.

The Cases: A Brief Overview

Golden-Elephant Sincerity (“GES”), a foreign-invested chemical company, holds proprietary rights to trade secrets and two patents concerning the production of melamine.[2] In April 2014, it was revealed that Shandong Hualu-Hengsheng Chemical Co., Ltd. (“SHH”) was involved in developing a melamine production line that was strikingly similar to GES’s own design. Mingda Yin, GES’s former chief engineer, was implicated in the unauthorized transfer of confidential information to SHH, raising serious legal and ethical concerns.

Subsequent investigations revealed that Mingda Yin may have provided GES’s confidential information to two additional companies responsible for the design and/or engineering of SHH’s production line, Ningbo Fareast Chemical Group Co., Ltd. and Ningbo AT&M Environmental & Chemical Engineering Design Co., Ltd.

GES, along with other plaintiffs, filed a series of civil lawsuits against the alleged infringers for patent infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets.[3] While the lower courts’ judgments were not entirely favorable to GES, the cases were then appealed to the SPC, and the SPC overruled the judgments of the lower courts and granted enhanced remedies in support of all of the plaintiffs’ requests.Continue Reading Landmark Judgments in Chinese Intellectual Property Law: Implications and Strategic Considerations for Foreign-Invested Enterprises

Two speeches by the EU Commission President, Ursula Von de Leyen in March and April 2023, set out the EU’s policy towards China. In late April, the UK Foreign Secretary set out the UK’s emerging strategy and on the same day earlier this month, a UK Government Committee released a report which heavily criticized the UK’s dealings with China and the German Government released its long-awaited (and much-redrafted) China Strategy. 

This blog looks at similarities between the three approaches and what conclusions we might draw about the implications.

EU China Strategy

The EU first labelled China a systemic rival in 2019.  Since then, the European Commission has promoted the idea of “de-risking” the bloc’s most sensitive economic sectors to limit their dependence on China.

In a powerful speech in March 2023 Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen set out the need for the EU to develop its China Strategy.  The new strategy was needed because of what she described as the hardening of China’s overall strategic posture, matched by human rights abuses at home and an increasingly assertive stance in Asia. She was careful to note that the EU’s position on China would depend on how China interacts with ‘Putin’s war’ and how China meets international human rights obligations.  President Von der Leyen labelled as deliberate Chinese policies of disinformation and economic and trade coercion, saying they were used to target ‘countries to ensure they comply and conform’.

The tone of President Von der Leyen’s speech was set against the EU’s assessment that a newly assertive China was moving from an era of ‘reform and opening’ to one of ‘security and control’ whose purpose was ‘a systemic change of the international order [to place] China at its centre’.  In her speech, The Commission President noted that ‘all companies in China…are…obliged … to assist state intelligence-gathering operations and to keep it secret’. President Von der Leyen concluded that Chinese focus on military, tech and economic security would increasingly trump the appeal of free markets and open trade.

However, President Von de Leyen made clear that the EU did not seek to ‘cut economic, societal, political or scientific ties’, but rather to ‘rebalance the relationship on the basis of transparency, predictability and reciprocity.’ Using language reminiscent of President Macron’s call for the EU to seek greater ‘strategic autonomy’, President Von der Leyen argued that the new relationship would require the EU’s economy and industry to be more competitive and resilient in the cyber and maritime, space and digital, defence, innovation, health, digital and clean-tech sectors. President Von der Leyen pointed to the Net-Zero Industry and the Critical Raw Materials Acts as examples of the EU’s determination to respond to Chinese domination of these critical sectors.Continue Reading China and Europe: De-Risking the Relationship

On July 3, 2023, China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) and General Administration of Customs (“GAC”) announced restrictions on the export of gallium and germanium. Starting August 1, 2023, Chinese exporters of gallium, germanium, and certain related chemical compounds must obtain export licenses from MOFCOM before exporting these materials.

Gallium and germanium are “minor metals” produced as a byproduct during the refining process of other metals, such as zinc and aluminum. Gallium and germanium are integral to producing semiconductor wafers, integrated circuits, light-emitting diodes, electric vehicles, solar cells, fiber-optic cables, and other electronic components. The United States classifies both metals as critical to U.S. economic and national security.

While China’s announcement does not explicitly target any country, the government has said the restrictions are necessary to protect China’s national security, leading many observers to believe they may be a response to export controls on semiconductors imposed by the United States in October 2022 and similar measures undertaken by U.S. allies, including Japan and the Netherlands. The China Daily quoted a former Chinese vice minister of commerce as saying, “This is just the beginning of China’s countermeasures, and China’s tool box has many more types of measures available. If the high-tech restrictions on China become tougher in the future, China’s countermeasures will also escalate.” 

China’s Latest Export Measures

These new export restrictions are partly based on China’s Foreign Trade Law and, in particular, the 2020 Export Control Law, which authorizes the government to impose restrictions on exports of certain items to “safeguard national security and interests, fulfill international obligations such as non-proliferation, and strengthen and standardize export controls.”  According to the announcement, beginning August 1, 2023, exporters of gallium metal, germanium metal, and 12 associated compounds will be required to obtain licenses from MOFCOM prior to export from China. The announcement of the export restrictions details the specific customs classification codes of covered commodities to help exporters determine whether an item will be subject to the new restrictions. Notably, the new rules apply only to these specific commodities, not to finished products that incorporate them.Continue Reading China Slaps Export Restrictions on Two Critical Metals