For Chinese regulators, Even a censored US-based social network was too much.
Microsoft Thursday said it would stop operating its work-oriented social network LinkedIn In China At the end of the year. In a statement, the company noted “significantly more challenging operating environments and the need for greater compliance in China.”
The announcement is a symbolic moment for US-China technology relations, and for China’s new radical approach to controlling its technology industry. Withdrawal of Microsoft is the most high-profile exit after Google He left the country in 2010 In protest of censorship and alleged espionage.
LinkedIn entered China in 2014 for misinformation and after agreeing to censor content on its site Politically sensitive issues, Such as Taiwan. Microsoft, which had its own long and relatively close relationship with Chinese authorities, acquired LinkedIn in 2016. In recent years, it has become the only major U.S. Internet company providing content in China. LinkedIn says it will operate a China-only job board within the country, effectively removing the site’s social networking and content sharing functionality.
The exit puts pressure on American companies as U.S.-China relations deteriorate and the Chinese government deepens its impact on the economy. “China’s tight control is becoming less and less compatible with Western companies,” said Nina Jiang, a financial analyst and author. US-China tech war, A book on high-tech competition and collaboration between the world’s two largest economies.
“LinkedIn is involved in content about the last remaining major American technology companies operating in China,” Jiang said. “As it leaves, the divide between China and the rest of the world will deepen.”
The LinkedIn announcement comes just months after the Chinese government stepped up pressure on its technology industry, with harsh crackdowns and stringent new rules. Significantly, this includes plans to take effect later this year Recommended algorithms to test and control. It uses LinkedIn algorithms to suggest new potential business connections for users as well as content.
Microsoft has a long history of successful management in the Chinese technology industry. Company Established a significant research labMicrosoft Research Asia, 1998 in Beijing
In 2012, lab members collaborated with Geoff Hinton, a pioneer of modern artificial intelligence, using a technique Deep knowledge For speech recognition. The lab will run Show a system that translates between English and Mandarin Uses technology in real time. Its AI adoption has helped seed a number of Chinese AI companies.
Microsoft will continue to operate its censored search engine, Bing, in China, even though it accounts for less than a percent of the country’s search market. According to MarketMeChina.
The pressure on LinkedIn has been rising for months. The company had executives in China in March It is known The government has been criticized for failing to control political content shared on the platform despite censorship. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
Company in August Said again Which is interrupting new member sign-ups via the LinkedIn app “to make sure we comply with local laws” and the company expanded its censorship in September. Telling some foreign journalists Their profile with China will be blocked
Chinese internet companies are also facing new challenges as the government imposes strict no-confidence rules and regulations around the use of data and algorithms.
Under government pressure, Ant Group, a Alibaba Financial Services Behind the widely used Alipay app, multi-billion dollar IPO plans in Hong Kong and Shanghai were canceled last November. The company has since been instructed to break up its business and adapt its mobile app to its fierce competitor Tencent.
In April, Ant’s parent company Alibaba E-commerce businesses were fined a record $ 2.8 billion by regulators for breach of trust.
In August, ride-hailing company DID was reprimanded for moving ahead with its own IPO, despite concerns from China’s Internet regulator about data privacy. The company’s app has been removed from the Chinese App Store, and it has been re-verified with its data practice.