Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is shutting down its career-networking site LinkedIn in China citing significantly growing challenges to comply with Beijing’s requirements.
The move to sunset the platform comes after Microsoft faced accusations of siding with the Communist Party’s censorship programme by shutting down profiles of journalists critical of the regime.
The Redmond-based multinational first launched a localised version of LinkedIn in China in February 2014 driven by the “mission to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”.
However, things have dramatically changed in the space of seven years, with Washington-Beijing relationships going south and China heavily clamping down on national tech.
LinkedIn’s senior vice-president Mohak Shroff said in a company blog: “While we have found success in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunity, we have not found that same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed.
“We are facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.
“Given this, we have made the decision to sunset the current localized version of LinkedIn, which is how people in China access LinkedIn’s global social media platform, later this year.”
As LinkedIn is turned off, Microsoft said it will launch an InJobs app to focus on helping China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find candidates.
The new, standalone jobs application for China will not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles in a move positioned to receive further criticism.
Microsoft said in a statement: “While we are going to sunset the localised version of LinkedIn in China later this year, we will continue to have a strong presence in China to drive our new strategy and are excited to launch the new InJobs app later this year.”
The unprecedented clampdown on the Chinese tech sector by the Communist Party began last November with the suspension of Ant Group’s IPO, after its majority controller, Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, criticised China’s state-dominated banking system.
Since then, antitrust probes have taken place conducted mostly by the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR), new data security laws overseen by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), and a tightening on capital expansions have turned tables upside down across Chinese tech firms.