“Επίθεση” κατά μέτωπο από την Κίνα στις ΗΠΑ. Αποφασισμένο να κλιμακώσει τις πιέσεις του κατά των αμερικανικών τεχνολογικών κολοσσών, τους οποίους τα κρατικά κινεζικά μέσα ενημέρωσης αναφέρουν ότι προσφέρουν «υπηρεσίες κατασκοπείας» στην Ουάσιγκτον, εμφανίζεται το Πεκίνο. Οι κινεζικές αρχές ανακοίνωσαν χθες ότι ανοίγουν έρευνα κατά της Microsoft για πρακτικές αθέμιτου ανταγωνισμού. Στο πλαίσιο αυτό, πραγματοποιήθηκαν έφοδοι στα γραφεία της εταιρείας σε τέσσερις πόλεις και κατασχέθηκαν υπολογιστές και έγγραφα.
China Raids Microsoft Offices
Security and Bundling Probe Follows U.S.-China Commercial and Policy Tensions
China confirmed it is investigating whether Microsoft Corp. MSFT -0.19% broke its antimonopoly laws, the latest sign of growing commercial and policy tensions between the U.S. and China that are roiling technology companies in both countries.
Roughly 100 investigators on Monday raided Microsoft offices in four Chinese cities including Beijing, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce said on Tuesday. The agency said that Microsoft had not disclosed relevant information about some security features and how it ties its software products together. The statement wasn’t more specific.
The investigation represents a new friction point between the countries following disclosures about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance and revelations of hacking of U.S. networks by China’s military.
The disputes increasingly are affecting companies as well as official relations. Several U.S. executives have said their business in China is suffering as a result. Many U.S. tech companies are counting on sales growth in China, where spending on information technology is expected to reach $200 billion this year, or 10% of the global total, according to market researcher IDC.
In recent weeks, China’s state broadcaster claimed Apple Inc. AAPL -0.65% ‘s iPhone and Microsoft’s latest Windows PC operating software weren’t safe to use. In May, the U.S. charged five Chinese military officers with breaking into U.S. companies’ computers; days later, Chinese state-owned media said U.S. firms including Google Inc., GOOGL -0.85% Microsoft and Yahoo Inc. YHOO -0.61% are “pawns” of the U.S. government and should be punished.
“Microsoft complies with the laws and regulations of every market in which we operate around the world,” a Microsoft spokesman said on Tuesday. “Our business practices in China are designed to be compliant with Chinese law.”
Qualcomm Inc., QCOM -0.69% a major supplier of cellphone chips, also has been under investigation since November over how it calculates patent-licensing and royalty rates in China and other issues. The chip maker last week said the investigation could trigger fines and a probable loss on business in the country. Qualcomm said China’s investigation has contributed to new “uncertainty” in the country.
“We welcome foreign enterprises including U.S. companies to invest and do business in China and will continue to create an enabling environment for their operations in China,” said a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. “We hope that the U.S. companies will abide by Chinese laws and regulations.”
China’s six-year-old antimonopoly law is a frequent focus of dispute. U.S. companies privately have complained for years that Chinese regulators slow acquisitions by U.S. companies or impose onerous restrictions on mergers to bolster domestic technology companies at the expense of U.S. ones.
Now some tech companies say China is using its antimonopoly law to punish U.S. companies for pricing policies or activities beyond mergers.
“The Chinese government has seized on using the [antimonopoly law] to promote Chinese producer welfare and to advance industrial policies that nurture domestic enterprises,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents major U.S. corporations,wrote in an April letter to federal officials.
Among Chinese tech companies, U.S. efforts to restrict sales of networking and telecom gear from China’s Huawei Technology Co. 002502.SZ -2.85% are a continued source of tension. Huawei officials were incensed about media accounts last spring of the U.S. government secretly installing “backdoors” into Huawei’s networks, to make it easier for the government to monitor communications.
U.S. officials also are scrutinizing Lenovo Group Ltd. 0992.HK -2.23% ‘s proposed purchase of International Business Machines Corp.’s IBM -0.62% computer-server business. Members of a board overseeing acquisitions with potential national-security implications have pressed the Chinese computer maker over whether its servers could be compromised by hackers or spies, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
“Our efforts with global regulatory bodies remain on track; we expect to close [the IBM acquisition] by the end of the year,” a Lenovo spokesman said.
Some U.S. tech companies targeted for scrutiny in China have said the spotlight is cooling their sales in the world’s biggest market for personal computers. Others have said other factors, including slowing economic growth in China or a preference for homegrown computing gear, are hurting revenue.
Microsoft’s finance chief last week said the company continues to “see challenging conditions in China” because of a “weak business environment.” Cisco Systems Inc., CSCO -0.81% whose networking equipment Chinese media last year said poses a risk to the country’s computing networks, said its China sales fell 8% in the quarter ended April 26.
For Microsoft, the government scrutiny threatens the company’s efforts to crack the China market after years of trying. Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella lobbied Chinese officials in 2012 to allow the company to sell cloud-computing services with a Chinese partner.
Microsoft is moving slowly to offer Chinese domestic companies a Web-friendly version of its Office software and outsourced computer processing. Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -0.13% and IBM are starting similar services in China.
Because of Microsoft’s prior efforts to cultivate ties with China’s government, some analysts said the company may be able to withstand the antitrust review.
“It was the first multinational company to launch a public cloud in China, and that shows some government support behind it,” said Gene Cao, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. FORR +0.29% He added: “I think they may be able to work it out.”
wsj.com – Yang Jie and Eva Dou