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Microsoft Continues AI Access in China Despite OpenAI Ban

An illustration of Microsoft Azure's AI services in China, featuring data centers and a map highlighting China. The image represents continued access to AI technology for Chinese customers amidst OpenAI's restrictions. Visual elements include symbols of cloud services, AI technology, and the geopolitical landscape

Microsoft Continues AI Access in China Despite OpenAI Ban

Microsoft has decided not to follow OpenAI's recent move to block application programming interface (API) access to its artificial intelligence (AI) models in China. While OpenAI's ban begins on July 9, Microsoft Azure continues to serve its Chinese customers.

Azure's Operation in China

Azure, operating in China through a joint venture, has assured its customers that AI model access remains available. According to Seeking Alpha, citing The Information, Microsoft confirmed this commitment on July 8.

OpenAI's Restriction

OpenAI announced it will block Chinese users from accessing its APIs starting July 9. This move aligns with its policy of restricting users from unsupported regions, as noted by Bloomberg on June 25. OpenAI has not responded to requests for comments on this decision.

Microsoft's Position

A Microsoft spokesperson clarified to PYMNTS that Azure OpenAI Service offerings in China remain unchanged. The company continues to provide access to eligible customers via models deployed in regions outside China. The spokesperson emphasized that OpenAI, as an independent entity, makes its own policy decisions.

U.S. Regulatory Context

In January, the Biden administration proposed regulations requiring major cloud service providers, including Microsoft, to monitor and investigate foreign clients developing AI applications. This is part of broader efforts to limit China's access to advanced technologies, including semiconductors, due to concerns over China's rapid AI development and its strategic implications.

China's AI Advancements

China's advancements in AI have been significant. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reported that China has filed over six times more generative AI patents than the United States, underscoring its dominant position in this technology sector.


While OpenAI is restricting access to its AI models in China, Microsoft continues to support its Chinese customers through Azure, reflecting differing strategies amidst growing geopolitical and regulatory scrutiny.