Yahoo stopped offering its services to mainland China on November 1. The decision had only been made public one day later. One reason for the delay in the announcement may have been that the move by Yahoo was "largely symbolic," in the words of The Guardian and the Voice of America (VOA). To support that assessment, the newspaper and VOA cited the following factors:

  • China blocks its citizens from accessing the Yahoo portal and other Yahoo services.
  • Yahoo closed its office in Beijing in 2015.
  • Since forming a partnership with Alibaba Group Holding in 2005, Yahoo has gradually phased out services in China.
  • It was announced in October that Yahoo Weather and other apps would no longer be available in China.

The BBC quoted a statement from Yahoo saying that the reason for its departure had been China's "increasingly challenging business and legal environment."

Increased Government Control

Yahoo shut down its services in China on the day when a new Personal Information Protection Law went into effect in China, according to the VOA, a U.S.

government-funded broadcaster. The law regulated what data companies could and how the companies could store the information, the VOA said. The Guardian also noted that Chinese laws required companies there to comply with any requests for information by the government.

The BBC quoted the Yahoo announcement saying: "Yahoo remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet. We thank our users for their support." The Guardian noted, however, that Yahoo had been the target of criticism in 2007 after data supplied by the company had enabled Chinese authorities to imprison two dissidents.

LinkedIn also leaving China

One month before Yahoo's departure from China, Microsoft had announced that it would stop making the business-oriented social media platform LinkedIn available in China, the VOA said.

Microsoft had blamed its decision to leave on a "more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China," the VOA recalled. In a blog post titled "China: Sunset of Localized Version of LinkedIn and Launch of New InJobs App Later This Year," LinkedIn said a new service called InJobs would soon be launched.

The company said the new service would not permit users to post or share articles.

Yahoo in decline

Yahoo has been in a decline for the past 20 years, but its search engine once rivaled that of Google. The broadcaster noted that the success of Facebook and Twitter had also come to overshadow Yahoo.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and now Yahoo are all blocked by China's firewall, but people there can circumvent internet censorship if they have access to a virtual private network (VPN), the VOA said.