Yahoo has now finally erased out of China, citing an increasingly challenging operating environment.
The withdrawal was largely at a very high symbolic, as many of the organization’s services were already blocked by the China digital censorship. But recent government moves to expand its control over technology companies generally, which includes its domestic giants, may have tipped the scales for Yahoo.
“In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s suite of services will no longer be accessible from mainland China as of November 1,” the company said in a statement. It said it “remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet.”
The company move comes as the Chinese and American governments feud over the latest innovative technologies and trade. The US has put restrictions on the telecom giant Huawei and some other Chinese technology companies, alleging that they have tied up with the government of China, the military or both. China also revealed that the US is unfairly suppressing competition and trying to block China’s technological rise.
Yahoo is, as of now, one of the latest foreign technology company to exit China. Google also gave up various years ago, and Microsoft professionals networking platform LinkedIn revealed last month that it would shutter its Chinese site by simply replacing it with a jobs board instead. The departures also illustrate the choices of the internet companies, which face a huge potential market, but one where the government also requires them to censor content and keywords deemed politically inappropriate or sensitive.
In their place, Chinese companies have also filled some of the void, which creates an alternative internet with its own digital giants. The Baidu search engine has also replaced both the Yahoo and Google in China, and WeChat and Weibo are also some of the leading social media platforms.
Yahoo’s departure coincided with the proper implementation of the China personal information protection law, which limits what information companies, can also gather and sets standards for how it must be stored.
Chinese laws also stipulate that companies operating in the country must hand over the data if requested by the authorities, which also makes it difficult for the western firms to simply operate in China as they may also face pressure back home over giving in to China’s demands.
Yahoo was harshly criticized by the different lawmakers in the US in the year 2017 after it has handed over some sort data on two Chinese dissidents to Bejining, eventually leading to their imprisonment.
Yahoo had also previously downsized its operations in China which dropped email service and music in the early 2010s and shuttered its Beijing office in 2015. Anyone who tried to access Engadget China, a technology news site that has continued to operate, was greeted with a popup saying the site would no longer publish content.
China has also bounded the some of the international social media platforms and search engines such as Google and Facebook. Some users in China circumvent the block via a virtual private network that masks who you are and when you are logging in from.
Verizon Communication acquired Yahoo in the year 2017 and merged it with AOL, but later sold the entity off to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management in a $5 billion deal. Apollo revealed in the month of September that its acquisition of Yahoo was highly complete.