LinkedIn’s exit from China cuts another bridge between East and West

for Chinese regulators, Even a US-based censored social network was too much.

Microsoft On Thursday, it said it would stop operating its work-oriented social network LinkedIn inside China end of the year. In a statement, the company noted “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”

The announcement is a symbolic moment for the US-China tech relationship, and for China’s new hard-line approach to regulating the tech industry. Microsoft’s withdrawal is one of the most significant departures since Google He left the country in 2010 Protesting 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 has had a relatively long and strong relationship with Chinese authorities, acquired LinkedIn in 2016. In recent years, it has been the only major US Internet company offering content within China. LinkedIn says it will operate a China-only job board within the country, effectively removing social networking and content-sharing jobs from the site.

The exit highlights the pressure on American companies as US-China relations deteriorate and the Chinese government deepens its influence over the economy. says Nina Chiang, financial analyst and author of Technology war between the United States and China, a book on high-tech competition and cooperation between the world’s two largest economies.

“LinkedIn is about the last remaining big US tech company operating in China with content,” says Chiang. And with his disappearance, the separation between China and the rest of the world will deepen.

LinkedIn’s announcement comes after months of intense Chinese government pressure on its tech industry, with sweeping crackdowns and harsh new rules. Significantly, that includes a plan to go into effect later this year To check and organize recommendations algorithms. This will cover the algorithms LinkedIn uses to suggest content as well as potential new business connections to users.

Microsoft has a long history of operating successfully within the technology industry in China. company Established an important research lab, Microsoft Research Asia, in Beijing in 1998. Researchers trained there can be found all over the world of technology in China.

In 2012, members of the lab teamed up with Jeff Hinton, a pioneer of modern artificial intelligence, using a technique known as deep learning for speech recognition. The lab will go to Show system translates between English and Mandarin Real time using technology. Its adoption of AI has helped form 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 4 percent of the country’s search market, to me MarketMeChina.

Pressure on LinkedIn has been mounting for months. In March, company managers were in China It said He was reprimanded by the government for failing to control political content shared on the platform, despite the censorship. It’s not clear what prompted the action, but the company was reportedly asked to conduct a “self-assessment”, stop registering new users, and notify China’s cyberspace administration within 30 days.

In August the company said again That he was temporarily stopping new member registrations via the LinkedIn app “to ensure we comply with local law,” without going into details. In September, the company expanded its oversight by We say to some foreign journalists That their profiles with China will be blocked

Chinese internet companies are also facing new challenges as the government imposes stricter antitrust rules and regulations around the use of data and algorithms.

Under government pressure, Ant Group, a Alibaba financial services popup Behind the widely used app Alipay, it canceled plans for a multi-billion dollar initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai last November. Since then, the company has been ordered to split its business and make its mobile app compatible with that of its fiercest competitor, Tencent.

In April, the parent company of Ant Ali Baba A record $2.8 billion has been fined by regulators for antitrust violations related to the e-commerce business.

In August, public transportation company DiDi was reprimanded for going ahead with its initial public offering despite China’s internet regulator’s data privacy concerns. The company’s app has been removed from Chinese app stores, and has come under new scrutiny over its data practices.

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