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(CNN Business)LinkedIn will shut down the local version of its service in China, marking a significant retreat for one of the few large US tech firms still operating in the country.
The career networking platform, owned by Microsoft (MSFT), made the decision because of a “significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China,” Mohak Shroff, senior vice president of engineering at LinkedIn, said in a blog post Thursday.
The company will instead roll out a new platform called InJobs later this year, a China-only portal that will “not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles” but simply serve as a portal to list and apply for jobs.
“While we’ve 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,” Shroff said.
Operating in China has always been challenging for private companies, but the screws have tightened further in the past year under Chinese President Xi Jinping. A sweeping regulatory crackdown in recent months has wiped an estimated $3 trillion off the market value of China’s biggest firms.
LinkedIn has been available in China since 2014. Its presence in the country, where it has more than 45 million users, is notable because many other Western social networks, including Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR), are blocked by the Chinese government’s massive censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall.
Microsoft has a long history in China, having entered the market in 1992. Its software is widely used by the Chinese government and companies, and its Bing search engine is also accessible, while Google (GOOGL) has been cut out for years.
Earlier this year, LinkedIn suspended new user sign-ups in China in order to “ensure we remain in compliance with local law,” according to a spokesperson at the time. The company declined to elaborate on which local law it was examining.
“We recognized that operating a localized version of LinkedIn in China would mean adherence to requirements of the Chinese government on internet platforms,” Shroff said Thursday. “While we strongly support freedom of expression, we took this approach in order to create value for our members in China and around the world.”
LinkedIn will continue working with Chinese businesses “to help them create economic opportunity,” he added.
CNN Business’ Laura He contributed to this report.
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