BEIJING (Reuters) -Chinese artificial intelligence(AI) companies are moving swiftly to attract users of OpenAI's technology, following reports that the U.S. firm plans to restrict access to its API in China and other countries.

ChatGPT maker OpenAI is planning to block access to technology used to build AI products for entities in China and some other countries, Chinese state-owned newspaper Securities Times reported on Tuesday.

ChatGPT is not available in mainland China but many Chinese startups have been able to access OpenAI's application programming interface (API) platform and use it to build their own applications, the Securities Times said.

It added that since late Monday, Chinese users of the platform have received emails warning they are in a "region that OpenAI does not currently support" and that additional measures to block API traffic from some regions would be taken starting July 9.

In response, Baidu (9888.HK), China's leading AI developer, said it would launch an "inclusive Program" offering new users free migration to its Ernie platform.

For OpenAI users, Baidu will provide additional Ernie 3.5 flagship model tokens, matching the scale of their OpenAI usage, Baidu's cloud unit said in a statement. Tokens are units of text processed by AI models.

Alibaba Cloud also joined in, offering free tokens and migration services for OpenAI API users through its AI platform. The company's Qwen-plus model is priced significantly lower than GPT-4, according to Alibaba.

Zhipu AI, another major player in China's AI sector, announced a "Special Migration Program" for OpenAI API users.

"Our GLM model fully benchmarks against OpenAI's product ecosystem," Zhipu AI said in a statement to developers seen by Reuters. "With our entirely self-developed technology, we ensure security and controllability."

Numerous Chinese companies have released chatbots powered by their own AI models over the past year.

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista and Yelin Mo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Louise Heavens)