Beijing (AFP)

The professional social network LinkedIn, owned by the American Microsoft, has announced that it is suspending new memberships to its services in China, the time to verify that it is in compliance with Chinese laws.

LinkedIn has had a Chinese language version since 2014, when it decided to expand by accepting strict censorship in China.

It now has 50 million users.

It is one of the few international platforms accessible in China, where all subjects considered politically sensitive are subject to censorship in the name of national stability and the tech giants are pressured to block all unwanted content online.

"We are a global platform with an obligation to respect the laws that are imposed on us, including the regulations of the Chinese government for our version of LinkedIn in China," the group said in a statement dated Tuesday, which does not give no more details on the laws at the origin of this decision.

Tech giants that refuse to bow to Chinese censorship, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, have long been blocked thanks to a highly sophisticated system dubbed the "Great Firewall", a pun in English that mixes the terms "Great Wall" and "firewall".

Microsoft, however, complies with Chinese rules for LinkedIn through a Chinese joint venture.

The professional social network has been criticized in China for removing the accounts of dissidents - on this subject LinkedIn claimed it was a mistake - and for removing politically sensitive content from its pages.

Microsoft Exchange was the victim of a hack last week, attributed to a group of Chinese hackers backed by Beijing, which affected at least 30,000 American organizations, including businesses, cities and local communities in the United States.

A LinkedIn spokesperson, however, assured Bloomberg that the suspension of new memberships had nothing to do with the attack.

Microsoft's trip to China was not always a smooth one: its search engine Bing was temporarily suspended in 2019 and in 2014 its Windows software was the subject of an anti-trust investigation.

© 2021 AFP