American technology company Yahoo says it has pulled out of China because of “an increasingly challenging business and legal environment.”
The company said in a statement its services were no longer available in mainland China as of November 1.
“Yahoo remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet. We thank our users for their support,” the statement said.
The withdrawal follows moves by Yahoo to reduce its presence in China over the past few years. Many of the company’s services were already blocked as a result of Chinese government censorship.
Yahoo is the latest major foreign technology company to leave China. Google gave up several years ago. And Microsoft’s professional networking service LinkedIn announced last month it was closing its Chinese site.
In their place, Chinese companies have created other digital services. The Baidu search engine has largely replaced Yahoo and Google in China. WeChat and Weibo are now the leading social media websites.
Restrictions on technology companies
The departures demonstrate the difficulties technology companies face operating in the massive mainland Chinese market. China requires companies to censor content and keywords that it considers politically sensitive or inappropriate.
Yahoo's pullout came as China’s government put new restrictions in place on internet companies. The restrictions are part of the country’s Personal Information Protection Law, which limits what information companies can gather. The law also sets rules for how information must be stored.
Chinese laws also require companies operating in the country to hand over data if requested by government officials. This makes it difficult for Western firms to operate in China as they may also face pressure back home for giving in to China's demands.
China blocks most international social media sites and search engines, such as Facebook and Google. Some users in China get around the block by using a virtual private network (VPN), which hides who users are and where they are operating from.
Yahoo was strongly criticized by American lawmakers in 2007 after it provided data on two Chinese dissidents to Beijing. The information later led to the dissidents being imprisoned.
Yahoo entered China in 1998. In 2012, the company struck a deal with Alibaba Group to sell its share of the massive online seller. The deal also saw Alibaba gain the right to operate Yahoo China under the Yahoo name for up to four years.
Yahoo China later closed its email service and web portal. But the company kept a major research and development center in Beijing until 2015, when it was shut down.
I’m Jill Robbins.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
challenging – adj. difficult to do in a way that tests your ability or determination
censorship – n. the system or practice of censoring books, movies, letters, etc.
inappropriate – adj. not suitable or proper in a particular situation
virtual private network (VPN) – n. a private computer network used to connect users in other places to a company’s private, internal network
portal – n. a page on the internet that links to many other pages of websites that people use to start searching for information