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Yahoo Inc. announced on Tuesday that it has pulled out of China, citing an “increasingly challenging business and legal environment.” Users in mainland China lost access to Yahoo on November 1.
Yahoo’s two-decade relationship with China had been rocky for a while. Yahoo shuttered its Beijing office in 2015, and China then blocked some of Yahoo’s services. Chinese users had relied on Yahoo’s app to access outlets that China’s Great Firewall had blocked, such as Bloomberg and Reuters. Last month, Apple seemingly removed the Yahoo app from its store after Yahoo Finance republished a Bloomberg story critical of China’s crackdown on the tech industry.
It’s become difficult for tech companies to operate in China as the government has tightened regulations.
“The newly introduced regulations governing privacy and data security have increased the uncertainty and compliance costs of operating in China, and some companies are preferring to pull out rather than deal with the added business risk,” said Cameron Johnson, a Shanghai-based management consultant at FAO Global, in the Wall Street Journal.
Like Yahoo, Microsoft recently took a stand, pulling its professional networking platform LinkedIn out of China. Still, several tech companies continue to comply with the Chinese government because of China’s large market. For instance, Chinese authorities have been demanding that Apple remove apps beyond just Yahoo, and as expected, Apple has thus far obeyed each command.
In 2016, Apple removed the New York Times app from China on false claims that the Times violated local laws. That’s right — somehow, Apple has me defending the Times.
The takeaway is clear: all tech companies are hypocritical mercenaries. Now, Yahoo is just slightly less shameless than Apple.