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Chinese AI Warning Looks Bad for Alibaba and Baidu. Investors Not Seeing That Yet.

Alibaba, like Chinese tech giant peer Baidu, is pushing into AI.

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Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

A tough word from Chinese state media on the investor frenzy over artificial intelligence stocks seems a bad sign for

and other China tech darlings. But it doesn’t look like the AI party is over just yet.

The Securities Times newspaper—a Chinese state-owned publication—warned over the hype around AI-linked stocks in a high-profile editorial on Thursday. As per a report from Dow Jones Newswires, the editorial cautioned that “some market capitals are keen on false concept speculation, luring investors to chase the market, and finally end up with losing. Investors must not follow the trend.”

“Investors must not follow the trend” is likely a rare point of agreement between Chinese state media and Barron’s staff. Indeed, while AI is an attractive area for growth and offers genuine consumer-tech use cases, a recent rally in stocks linked to the technology increasingly looks like it’s overdone and could end badly. Investors would do well to be cautious and look for sober opportunities amid the frenzy.

The editorial from the Securities Times seemed enough to cause a correction in at least some Chinese AI names. The Hong Kong-listed shares of
(ticker: BIDU) tumbled 3.7% on Thursday, with smaller stocks like
CloudWalk Technology
(688327.China), which makes facial recognition software, losing 9.4% in Shanghai trading.

A warning from Chinese state-owned media is almost as good as a ruling from a Beijing regulator—and nothing to shrug at. China’s regulatory crackdown since late 2020 on the country’s tech sector has wreaked havoc on widely held stocks like
(BABA), with many moves telegraphed in the media ahead of time. With both Alibaba and Baidu pushing ahead on AI—and seeing their stocks benefit from investor interest in the sector—the Securities Times article should be taken seriously.

Nevertheless, the stock market thinks the music isn’t stopping yet. 

While the decline in the smaller Chinese names looks like it came on the back of the editorial—CloudWalk epitomizes the craze, up more than 100% in a month—Baidu’s fall almost matched action in the company’s U.S.-listed stock on Wednesday. And Alibaba actually gained in Hong Kong, rising 4%. Baidu stock was up 1.5% in U.S. premarket trading after Asian markets closed. Alibaba shares rose another 3.9%.

Wall Street is still gripped with AI mania—a trend in recent weeks that is linked to the high-profile public launch of
-backed (MSFT) OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. 

wants to use the bot to beef up its long-neglected Bing web search engine. Google parent
(GOOGL) will launch a ChatGPT competitor, and investors seemed nervous about the prospect that Google’s search dominance may be disrupted. Alibaba and Baidu—which have both announced that their own chatbots are in the works—have emerged as Chinese ways to play the theme.

Investors have learned tough lessons from Chinese regulators in the past two years, chiefly that hey are not to be trifled with. The Securities Times editorial may be a sign that a crackdown is coming and the lights are about to be turned on at the end of the dance, even if the stock market wants to keep grooving.

Write to Jack Denton at


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