China's Baidu has rolled out its ChatGPT rival ERNIE Bot to the public, in a major leap for the country's tech sector as it aims to cash in on the global artificial intelligence [AI] gold rush.
"We are thrilled to share that ERNIE Bot is now fully open to the general public starting August 31," Baidu said in a statement on Thursday.
The launch comes after China’s government approved three tech firms, including Baidu, Baichuan Intelligent Technology and Zhipu AI, to release their AI products.
Baidu's shares were up about 4.5 percent in early trade in Hong Kong.
Unlike in Western countries, where AI products can be launched without regulatory approval, China requires companies to submit security assessments and get clearance before releasing mass-market AI products.
Authorities have recently accelerated efforts to support companies to develop AI as the technology increasingly becomes a focus of competition with the US.