Yahoo shuts down remaining China services

Business & Technology

Yahoo has ended its 22-year presence in the Chinese market, a largely symbolic move after many of the internet company’s services had already stopped operating in China years ago.

yahoo china
View of the stand of Yahoo China during an exhibition in Beijing, China, November 27, 2006. Oriental Image via Reuters Connect.

Yahoo, an early internet titan that was founded in 1994 and entered the Chinese market in 1999, has shut down its remaining services in mainland China as of November 1, the company announced.

  • Yahoo Weather, Yahoo Finance, and other websites run by Yahoo, including and media outlets TechCrunch and Engadget, are no longer accessible from within China, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The “departure was largely symbolic,” the WSJ adds, because many of Yahoo’s services had already stopped operating in China years ago: The company’s local partner since 2005, Alibaba, had “shut down Yahoo’s email, Chinese music, news and community services in 2013.”

Yahoo’s China departure is the third similar move by a major U.S. tech platform in a month, following the decision by LinkedIn on October 14 to close down its localized social media network, and the news that Epic Games would no longer pursue launching its video game Fortnite in China, per an October 31 notice (in Chinese).

  • Fortnite never had much luck behind the Great Firewall, the WSJ notes, because Epic Games’ local partner, Tencent, “never received approval to sell in-app items and monetize from the game,” despite running a beta version for three years.
  • China’s new strict limits on gaming hours for players under 18 no doubt contributed to Epic Games’ decision to pull the plug on the China version of its most popular game.

Why did Yahoo leave?

The company said the decision was made in “recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China,” per Reuters, and added that it “remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet.”

Compliance costs with new laws, such as China’s new Personal Information Protection Law that went into effect yesterday, likely played a major role in the decision.

  • Though many media outlets, including the WSJ, note that it is “modeled after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation,” TechCrunch says that “the comparison only goes so far…having to ‘pass a security assessment organized by the national cybersecurity authority’ before transferring information across borders doesn’t have the same implications when the country in question is China.”
  • More data regulations and guidelines are coming, and they could prove particularly onerous for foreign companies to comply with. The South China Morning Post reports that “proposed guidelines for firms transferring data outside China’s borders, including to Hong Kong and Macau, are more wide-ranging than expected.”