China's war for technology talent is intensifying.

Tens of thousands of people are being hired to shore up cybersecurity, censor online content, and try to make China No. 1 in the application of artificial intelligence as capital pours into both startups and more mature businesses at a time when the government is demanding rapid development.

"Companies are well-funded and are in serious competition for talent," said Thomas Liang, a former executive at Chinese search giant Baidu who is now running an AI-focused fund. He said that startups in hot sectors like AI often have to offer 50 to 100 percent pay raises to attract employees away from established technology firms.