China's tech giants are looking to rival the West's artificial intelligence projects, including the booming ChatGPT, a report has claimed.

According to a report by the Financial Times, Chinese tech companies like Baidu, Alibaba and NetEase are announcing investment plans to develop technology rivaling OpenAI's chatbot.

Baidu is reportedly planning to launch a chatbot named Ernie into its search engine, similar to Microsoft and OpenAI's Bing Chat, in the following months.

The bot has been in development since 2019, according to the news outlet.

"Baidu has focused talent and money on this, so they are the most likely to build one of China's leading GPT platforms," Boris Van, an analyst tracking China's AI efforts, told the outlet. "They have a lot riding on the launch."

The Ernie chatbot is reportedly set for a rollout in March, with Baidu planning to reveal more details this week. The chatbot will be integrated into Baidu's products, including search, electric vehicles and smart assistants, according to a source by the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, Alibaba Group Holding is also joining the AI race, saying that it has been testing a ChatGPT-like service that takes advantage of its years of research in large language models, the South China Morning Post earlier reported.

According to the outlet, a spokeswoman for Alibaba confirmed on Feb. 9 that the company's research institute, Damo Academy, was conducting internal testing. However, the launch of the service remains unknown.

Adding to the AI race is video gaming giant NetEase which is reportedly working on a product that "originates from the technology used by ChatGPT."

Gaming analyst Daniel Ahmad previously said NetEase would launch a "game version" of ChatGPT.

"With Generative AI being all over the headlines these days, NetEase says it'll launch the first game version of ChatGPT in Justice Online Mobile, its upcoming MMO title," Ahmad wrote. "It'll allow players to chat with NPCs and have them react in unique ways that impact the game."

"Through AI tech, it would create conversations that are fully voiced, emotive and impactful," Ahmad added.

Another big company vying to rival ChatGPT is, one of China's top three online retailer platform operators.

"[] is accelerating AI applications powered by ChatGPT-related technological achievements," company vice-president He Xiaodong said, as quoted by SCMP.

The companies' moves came amid China's long-standing censorship, which reportedly slowed the country's ability to develop its version of ChatGPT.

"Censorship could certainly hinder China's ability to develop a local equivalent to ChatGPT," Dahlia Peterson, a research analyst at Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), told the Post.

"Even if [Chinese] AI companies are able to access and utilize global data and research resources to train their AI models, it is unlikely the Chinese authorities will allow them to use any material deemed as politically sensitive in their replies."