April 24, 2024
  • Republican Senator Marco Rubio criticized Microsoft for continuing to do business in China and complying with their strict censorship rules
  • No other major tech company such as Google, Meta, and Yahoo operates there
  • Democrat Senator Mark Warner also criticized the company and advised it to shut down operations in China

Microsoft Faces Criticism For Continuing Business In China

Microsoft has been severely criticized for continuing to operate in China and complying with their censorship rules. Currently, Google, Meta, and Microsoft are some of the biggest tech players — the first two don’t operate in China.

Microsoft not only maintains ties with the country but has also molded its operations to abide by the stringent censorship rules there.

The issue was recently brought to light by Republican Senator Marco Rubio who added his opinion to the ongoing controversy saying that Bing (Microsoft’s default search engine) filters the results for Chinese users because the state doesn’t want its citizens to see them.

This includes content related to climate change, human rights, democracy, and similar topics that are considered controversial in the country.

Rubio said that an action like this by such a renowned company cannot be excused. “Every company doing business in China makes concessions to a genocidal, authoritarian regime,” he added.

He also said that no amount of justification can be made for continuing to do business with China.

At a time when relationships between the two countries are strained, any company doing business there will be seen as an assistant to the Chinese Communist Party and helping them accomplish their goals of overtaking the US.

Before Rubio, Democrat Senator Mark Warner also criticized the company for accommodating China’s whims and even said that they should consider shutting down operations there.

This won’t be the first time. Many other US companies have previously pulled out of China over their strict censorship which basically violates user’s right to speech and expression. Google and Yahoo for instance no longer operate in that country.

Read more: U.S. Government initiates investigation into China’s Microsoft email breach

What Does Microsoft Have to Say about These Criticisms?

Microsoft has called the talks about its restriction an exaggeration. While it’s true that they have a local Bing version with additional restrictions, they still do their best to provide the users with an unrestricted experience.

Clearing the air about its stance on censorship, the company said it only restricts content that falls under the scope of a small legal order they are obligated to follow. If they sometimes feel that an order is not in accordance with Chinese laws, they push back.

CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview last year that he is not worried about his company not making money from China.

Speaking about shutting down services, the company argued that doing so will only harm the users whose access to information will be limited.

Another reason why Microsoft might not want to end its operations in China is that it still gets most of its hardware manufactured in the country.

We all know that Chinese products are best known for their low prices. Abruptly pulling the plug on Bing in China might disrupt that relationship and cause trouble in Microsoft’s supply chain.

Revenue doesn’t seem to be a huge factor in the company’s decision to continue business there. Most of Microsoft’s business still happens in the US, Europe, and Asia. However, it’s the trade relationship that matters more to him.

It’s important to note that Microsoft did shut down LinkedIn’s operations in China last year during the mass lay-off season. The fierce competition from other local (and more popular) job boards and the growing extent of content censorship was believed to be the reason.

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