Microsoft reportedly receives more visits from the Chinese SAIC as pursuit of Western firms continues
China is seemingly continuing its pursuit of foreign tech firms operating in the country with reports that anti-trust regulators launched fresh raids on local Microsoft offices, a week after paying unexpected visits to the firm’s operations in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
It is claimed that China’s State for Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) conducted new raids on Microsoft offices in Beijing, Liaoning, Fujian and Hubei as well as the Dalian offices of IT consultancy Accenture, which is Microsoft’s partner in China.
The SAIC is responsible for market supervision and regulation, and is one of a number of Chinese government agencies that deal with antitrust issues. The National Development and Reform Commission deal with issues related to pricing, while the Ministry of Commerce investigates proposed mergers and acquisitions.
“We’re serious about complying with China’s laws and committed to addressing SAIC’s questions and concerns,” a Beijing-based Microsoft spokeswoman told Reuters
“We can confirm that, as required by Chinese laws, we are cooperating with investigators of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and are helping provide them with certain information related to one of our clients,” Accenture Greater China confirmed to the news agency.
China has targeted a number of US firms in anti-trust investigations in recent months as business relations between the two countries continue to sour, not least because of US allegations of cyber espionage by Chinese individuals and companies.
Chinese network equipment manufacturer Huawei meanwhile is effectively locked out of the American public sector market because the US government fears the company is spying for China, while five members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were charged in May for alleged cyber-espionage.
San Diego-based Qualcomm is also being investigated by Chinese authorities over claims that it is charging higher prices in China than it does in other countries, and it could face up to $1 billion in financial penalties.
Microsoft has reportedly had its OneDrive cloud storage service disrupted in China, and Windows 8 has already been excluded from government purchases, in order to “ensure computer security” and China recently warned it would vet Western technology companies operating in the country.
Other foreign firms to face difficulties operating in mainland China include Apple, after local media reported that the iPhone was a national security risk – a claim Apple rigorously denied – and IBM and Cisco, both of which are also facing moves by Chinese businesses and banks to replace Western computers or software in favour of local offerings.
Earlier this week China reportedly excluded American anti-virus vendor Symantec and its Russian competitor Kaspersky from a government list of approved anti-virus vendors because of security concerns.
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