The Chinese government is conducting in-depth reviews on outside technology companies in a bid to have more control over foreign services in China.
Microsoft is one of the major US based companies that is being subjected to security reviews in China, according to a report from the New York Times. The reviews, which are also being conducted on Microsoft's rival Apple, are part of China's plans to increasingly keep tabs on foreign companies, especially those from the United States.
China is the most populated nation on earth and arguably the most important tech market, simply because so much of it is still untapped. There is huge potential for US companies like Microsoft and Apple to make massive gains and profits in the country, but the government is known for draconian measures on foreign products.
Reviewing US and other tech companies allows the Chinese government to control the market, protecting homegrown companies from competition. This may seem prudent for economic growth, but the country is known for placing harsh restrictions on western companies, and Microsoft has felt this more than most.
China says that the reviews are a part of normal service, which may be true at a basic level, but the practice seems to go beyond mere quality control or regulatory measures. Government representatives have been conducting interviews with engineers and executives from tech companies over the last nine months, according to the New York Times.
It seems the Cyberspace Administration of China is conducting the reviews backed by its committee of security experts, which points to the country's increasing desire to control foreign services. China having access to western company services is also a concern for global governments, particularly the US as the two superpowers have been locked in a war of words over alleged hacks and stealing of data.
More worrying for Microsoft is the potential problem of other countries following China's lead and stamping down on regulations to get more control over foreign services.