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Yahoo and Fortnite leave China as the 'challenging' environment drives western tech companies out

Yahoo's announcement comes after Epic Games, the studio behind free-to-play online shooter Fortnite, announced it would be pulling the game out of China on Sunday.
Yahoo's announcement comes after Epic Games, the studio behind free-to-play online shooter Fortnite, announced it would be pulling the game out of China on Sunday.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
By Tom Bateman  & Reuters

Yahoo has closed its services to users in China, becoming the third Western tech brand to quit the country in recent weeks.

The company stopped providing content for users in mainland China as of November 1, according to a statement published on its website, which cited the "increasingly challenging business and legal environment" in the country.

"Yahoo remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet. We thank our users for their support," a Yahoo spokesperson told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

Not so epic

Yahoo's announcement comes after Epic Games, the studio behind free-to-play online shooter Fortnite, announced it would be pulling the game out of China on Sunday.

Epic, which is part-owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, said that it would turn off the servers hosting a China-only Beta test version of the popular game on November 15.

In August, the Chinese government announced new restrictions on video games for under-18s, which limit them to just three hours of online gaming a week.

"Thank you to all the Fortnite China players who have ridden the Battle Bus with us by participating in the Beta," the company said in a statement.

Last social platform standing

Yahoo's move also follows that of Linkedin, which was pulled out of China by owner Microsoft last month.

Microsoft's decision marked the retreat of the last major US-owned social network in China.

The company said the "more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China" had contributed to the move.

Yahoo had already greatly scaled back its presence in China over the past few years. Before Monday's closure, it still operated a weather app and some pages that showed news articles in foreign languages.

AP Photo
Yahoo users in China were greeted with a message announcing the closure on MondayAP Photo

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.