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LinkedIn to close China jobs service and cites strong competition

LinkedIn is closing down the Chinese version of its social networking service for professionals, becoming the latest western company to shutter services in China amid increased competition and a tightening regulatory environment.

The Microsoft-owned company announced on Tuesday it was shutting down InCareer, the pared-back job application site that had replaced the localised LinkedIn social networking site it closed in 2021. At the time, LinkedIn said it was facing a “significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements”.

LinkedIn wrote on its official WeChat account on Tuesday: “Although we have made initial progress in the past year, InCareer has faced increasingly fierce competition and macroeconomic challenges.” The service will close in three months on August 9, but the company will retain a presence in China to help local groups hire and train employees outside the country, it said.

Unlike the full LinkedIn site, InCareer does not have a social media feed or the ability to share posts or articles. Chinese online recruitment platform Boss Zhipin and social networking site Maimai have overtaken LinkedIn in China, where it launched in 2014 and once had tens of millions of regular users. Social media rivals Facebook and Twitter have been blocked in China for more than a decade.

One coder in the LinkedIn China office said the company held a meeting on Tuesday morning to notify employees that it was cutting staff. The individual said most of the coding team had been let go at the same time.

LinkedIn chief executive Ryan Roslansky wrote in a letter to employees on Monday that the company would cut 716 jobs globally, including the product and engineering teams in China.

InCareer still retained a limited messaging function. Its closure gives foreign businesses and investors fewer tools to monitor their China operations.

One regulatory official said LinkedIn had been scrutinised by officials because it enabled foreigners to communicate with Chinese employees. “This is a problem because authorities cannot track the conversations,” the official said.

The move comes as Chinese authorities increase scrutiny of US companies in the wake of a counter-espionage law that appears to have widened the scope of documents and data that can be defined as pertinent to national security.

On Monday, China announced that its state security services had raided multiple offices of international consultancy Capvision, saying the advisory group had passed sensitive information abroad.

State broadcaster CCTV aired an in-depth report on Monday night accusing the consultancy of arranging interviews with well-known experts in government policy, national defence and technology, a few of whom revealed sensitive information during consultations.

LinkedIn is the latest in a string of Western companies vastly reducing their presence in the Chinese market as they confront a tougher regulatory environment and strong domestic competition.

Amazon announced last year that it would close its Chinese ebook store next month, exiting a once important source of sales for the Kindle business unit.

This came a month after Airbnb decided to close its China business, citing “pandemic challenges”.

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