SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Yahoo said it had stopped allowing its services to be accessible from mainland China “in recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment”, the second Western tech brand to quit the country in recent weeks.
The company stopped providing content for users in mainland China as of Nov. 1, according to a statement published on its website, which directed users of Yahoo and AOL mail to other links. Local Chinese media reported Yahoo’s move on Tuesday.
“In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s suite of services will no longer be accessible from mainland China as of November 1,” a Yahoo spokesperson told Reuters in an email on Tuesday.
“Yahoo remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet. We thank our users for their support.”
Yahoo’s move follows that of Microsoft Corp, which pulled the plug on LinkedIn in China last month, marking the retreat of the last major U.S.-owned social network in China. LinkedIn cited a “more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China”.
Yahoo had already greatly scaled back its presence in China over the past few years. Prior to Monday, it had still operated a weather app and some pages that showed news articles in foreign languages.
Yahoo entered China in 1998 and in 2012 struck a deal with Alibaba Group to sell its stake in the e-commerce giant. The deal also saw Alibaba obtain the right to operate Yahoo China under the Yahoo brand for up to four years.
Yahoo China later shut its email service and web portal but the brand retained a global research and development center in Beijing until 2015, when it was shut down.
Its departure comes as Beijing has imposed fresh curbs on its internet companies on areas from content to customer privacy as well as new laws. On Monday, its new Personal Information Protection law designed to protect online user data privacy came into effect.
In May, Verizon Communications sold Yahoo and its other media businesses to private equity firm Apollo Global for $5 billion.
The Chinese website of tech blog Engadget, which was also sold in the deal, was also unavailable on Tuesday and only displayed Yahoo’s announcement on no longer providing content for mainland China users.
“Fortnite” creator Epic Games also said it was shutting down its servers starting Nov. 15, after it stopped new user registrations on Monday.
“Fortnite China’s Beta test will be ending, and the servers will be closed soon.”
In August, China introduced new rules that limit the amount of time under-18s can spend on video games to three hours a week, a move it said was necessary to combat gaming addiction. It was a body blow to a global gaming industry that caters to tens of millions of young players in the world’s most lucrative market.
(Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Brenda Goh, Additional reporting by Eva Mathews; Editing by Keith Weir and Shailesh Kuber)