Yahoo withdrew from China, citing a “challenging” environment.

Yahoo Inc. says it has distanced itself from China, citing a “growing business and legal environment.”

The withdrawal was largely symbolic, as many of the company’s services had already been blocked by Chinese digital censorship. But the current government has generally taken steps to increase its control over tech companies, including its domestic companies, which may have signaled scales for Yahoo.

“Recognizing the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s collection of services will no longer be accessible from mainland China from November 1,” the company said in a statement. “We are committed to the rights of our users and to a free and open Internet,” he said.

The company’s move comes amid a technology and trade dispute between the US and Chinese governments. The United States has imposed sanctions on telecom company Huawei and other Chinese tech companies, accusing them of having ties to the Chinese government, military or both. China says the United States is unfairly suppressing competition and trying to stem China’s technological rise.

Yahoo is the latest foreign tech company to emerge from China. Google quit several years ago, and Microsoft’s professional networking platform LinkedIn said last month that it would shut down its Chinese site, replacing it with a job board. The departure reflects the choices Internet companies face in a large potential market, but one where the government requires them to censor content and keywords that are considered politically sensitive or inappropriate.

In their place, Chinese companies have filled this gap, and developed an alternative Internet with their digital giants. The Baidu search engine has overtaken Yahoo and Google in China, and WeChat and Weibo are the leading social media platforms.

Yahoo’s departure coincided with the enactment of China’s Personal Information Protection Act, which limits what companies may collect and sets standards for the way it is stored.

Chinese law also stipulates that companies operating in the country must submit data upon request by the authorities, making it difficult for Western firms to operate in China because they have to comply with Chinese demands. Returning home can be stressful.

Yahoo was sharply criticized by US lawmakers in 2007 for handing over data on two Chinese opponents to Beijing, which led to their imprisonment.

Yahoo had previously reduced its operations in China, abandoned its music and email services in the early 2010s and closed its Beijing office in 2015. Anyone who tried to access Engadget China, a tech news site he continued to work with, was greeted on Tuesday. A popup says the site will not publish any more content.

Verizon Communications Inc. Acquired Yahoo in 2017 and merged with AOL, but later sold the company to private equity firm Apollo Global Management in a 5 billion deal. Apollo announced in September that it had completed the acquisition of Yahoo.


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