In a twist of events, a corporate account named "Midjourney China" emerges on Tencent-owned platform WeChat, inviting beta test user applications. However, the account mysteriously deletes its article shortly after. While the original post mentioned limited application windows, users quickly occupied the initial quota on launch day. The product remains untested as TechCrunch's reference is excluded.
The owner, Pengyuhui, a Nanjing-based company founded in October, has limited public information available. Midjourney's identity verification is yet to be confirmed, prompting inquiries to the company for clarification.
Entering China's internet space comes with significant hurdles due to strict regulations. Foreign startups often seek local partnerships for operational support. Amid various contenders claiming to be Midjourney's Chinese version, "Midjourney China" stands out with its focus on community building and continuous iterations. Notably, it runs on QQ, a popular PC-era messenger akin to Discord. QQ's role in China's generative AI craze is evident, gathering a vast community of developers and users. Although Tencent and "Midjourney China" lack an official partnership, the latter joins as a third-party client and independently acquires users.
Chinese tech-savvy users are familiar with Midjourney, accessed through VPNs to overcome the Great Firewall's block on Discord. Agents facilitate Midjourney subscriptions without credit cards, aligning with China's mobile payment preference. Amidst the absence of ChatGPT and competitors, the legitimacy of "Midjourney China" sparks curiosity and its resemblance to the original art generator enhances intrigue. Users prompt image generation through QQ and modify them with instructions. After the initial 25 free images, a pricing scheme comparable to the Discord-based version applies.
"Midjourney China" emerges as Western internet giants retreat from China. LinkedIn recently shuttered InCareer, an app tailored to comply with Chinese regulations but lacked demand. Midjourney faces similar challenges, striving to comply while competing against established domestic players.
Navigating China's ever-evolving regulations is crucial for foreign market entrants. Real-name verification, prevalent in generative AI services, aligns with China's requirements. "Midjourney China" may satisfy this criterion by leveraging QQ, where user accounts inherently link to real identities. Compliance extends further, with rules for synthetic media use, including labeling and monitoring. "Midjourney China" faces the challenge of managing user behavior and costs as it gains traction in the country.