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China's 'Great Firewall' pushes top Taiwan AI startups toward Japan

Internet restrictions hinder companies that mine social media posts

iKala founder Sega Cheng with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in October 2021. iKala opened a unit in Japan last year. (Photo courtesy of iKala)

TOKYO -- Some Taiwanese startups specializing in artificial intelligence have chosen to expand in Japan rather than mainland China due to structural barriers that have become inherent in Chinese cyberspace.

Sega Cheng, a former Google engineer, founded the startup iKala in Taipei in 2011 as an online karaoke operation. Now the company helps vendors connect with influencers. In September last year, iKala established a Japanese unit.

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