For Chinese regulators, Even a censored US-based social network was too much.
Microsoft said on Thursday it would stop operating its work-oriented social network linkedin within China by the end of the year. In a statement, the company cited a “significantly more challenging operating environment in China and greater compliance requirements.”
The announcement is a symbolic moment for US-China tech ties and for China’s new hardline approach to regulating its tech industry. Microsoft’s withdrawal is the most high-profile departure since Google left the country in 2010 to protest censorship and alleged espionage.
LinkedIn entered China in 2014 after agreeing to censor content on its site for misinformation and politically sensitive topics, such as Taiwan. Microsoft, which had a long and relatively strong relationship with Chinese authorities, acquired LinkedIn in 2016. In recent years, it has been the only major US Internet company to offer content within China. LinkedIn says it will operate only China’s job boards within the country, effectively removing the site’s social networking and content sharing functionality.
The exit highlights pressure on US companies as US-China relations deteriorate and the Chinese government deepens its influence on the economy. “China’s tight control is becoming less and less for Western companies,” says Nina Jiang, a financial analyst and author. US-China tech war, a book on high-tech competition and cooperation between the world’s two largest economies.
“LinkedIn is about the last remaining large US tech firm operating in China that includes content,” Jiang says. “With it gone, the relationship between China and the rest of the world will deepen.”
LinkedIn’s announcement comes after months of increasing pressure from the Chinese government on its technology industry, with sweeping crackdowns and tough new rules. It is worth noting that this also includes plans to be implemented by the end of this year. To investigate and regulate recommendation algorithms. It will cover the algorithms that LinkedIn uses to create content as well as suggest new potential business connections to users.
Microsoft has a long history of successfully operating in China’s tech industry. The company established an important research laboratory, Microsoft Research Asia, in Beijing in 1998. Researchers trained there can be found in the technological world of China.
In 2012, members of the lab collaborated with Geoff Hinton, a pioneer of modern artificial intelligence, using a technique known as deep learning for speech recognition. the laboratory will continue Demonstrate a system that translates between English and Mandarin In real time using technology. The adoption of AI helped many Chinese AI companies take seed.
Microsoft will continue to operate its censored search engine, Bing, in China, although it accounts for less than 4 percent of the country’s search market, According to MarketMechina.
LinkedIn has been under increasing pressure for months. In March, company executives in China were Allegedly Despite the censorship, it was reprimanded by the government for failing to control the political content shared on the platform. It’s unclear who took action, but the company was reportedly required to conduct a “self-assessment,” stop signing-up new users, and report to China’s Cyberspace Administration within 30 days.
company in August then said That it was stopping new member sign-ups through the LinkedIn app “to ensure we remain in compliance with local law,” without elaborating. And in September the company expanded its censorship telling some foreign journalists that their profile will be blocked with china
Chinese Internet companies also face new challenges as the government enforces strict antitrust rules and regulations for the use of data and algorithms.
Under government pressure, Ant Group, Alibaba’s financial services spinout behind the widely used Alipay app, scrapped plans for a multi-billion dollar IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai last November. The company has since been ordered to break up its business and make its mobile app compatible with its fiercest competitor, Tencent.
In April, Ant’s parent company Alibaba was fined a record $2.8 billion by regulators for antitrust violations related to its ecommerce business.
In August, ride-hailing company DiDi was reprimanded for going ahead with its IPO despite China’s internet regulator’s concern over data privacy. The company’s app was taken down from the Chinese App Store, and there has been a new investigation into its data practices.
online education companies and gaming firm People under the age of 18 have also faced stringent regulations on what products they can offer.
The departure of LinkedIn is unlikely to have a major impact on Chinese Internet users. The company has about 50 million users in the country, According to Apollo Technical, a relatively small part of the country’s billions of Internet users. Other job-hunting sites like 51job.com And lay pin are more popular with Chinese users. LinkedIn is popular among engineers, but faces intense competition from local sites, says a Chinese AI researcher familiar with the job market in China.
LinkedIn is also popular among people who have ties to both the US and China. For some, the news is another sign of a lost connection.
“It’s Sad,” Says Cohost Kaiser Kuo Sinica Podcast, which covers Chinese culture, economy and politics. “I understand why Microsoft is doing this, but there goes another point of contact, another window into another world for ordinary Chinese people.”
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