Published: October 18, 2021
Due to China’s greater compliance requirements and more challenging operating environment, Microsoft recently announced its plan to stop LinkedIn’s operations within China by the end of 2021.
Linkedin began its operations in China in 2014 and was acquired by Microsoft in 2016. Notably, it’s been the only major US internet company offering content in China in recent years.
LinkedIn’s exit from China accentuates the pressure on American companies due to the worsening relations between the two countries. Nina Xiang, the author of US-China Tech War and a business analyst, believes that this can also result in further decoupling between the country and the rest of the world.
Ultimately, the announcement follows the Chinese government’s intensifying pressure on its technology sector, with the continued implementation of harsh rules and sweeping crackdowns.
What’s more, the government also plans to force an evaluation and regulation of recommendation algorithms. That would include the algorithms LinkedIn uses to suggest content and potential business connections to its users.
Generally speaking, Microsoft has been operating successfully within China’s tech industry for quite some time. For instance, Microsoft Research Asia, an impressive research lab, was established in Beijing in 1998.
In 2012, the lab collaborated with a pioneer of modern artificial intelligence, Geoff Hinton. Their project aimed at using deep learning for speech recognition. The lab would then demonstrate how using the technology allowed a system to translate between English and Mandarin in real time. The adoption of the said technology stimulated the emersion of countless Chinese AI companies.
That being said, the company has been under much pressure because of LinkedIn in the last few months. For instance, its executives in China were reprimanded in March for failing to control political posts on the platform despite the censorship. However, it remains unclear what prompted the action.
Notably, the company was also required to stop accepting new users, carry out a “self-evaluation,” and report to the Cyberspace Administration of China within 30 days.
People with strong connections to both the US and China use LinkedIn. Therefore, some see its departure from China as a sign of another lost connection.