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A screen with the Yahoo and logos at the China World Hotel in Beijing, Aug. 11, 2005

In what is seen as largely a symbolic move, Yahoo said Tuesday it stopped providing services in mainland China because of what it described as a difficult operating environment.

The U.S. web services provider said in a statement on its website the move took effect on November 1 "in recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment."

November 1 is the date on which China's Personal Information Protection Law took effect. The law limits what information companies can compile and standardizes how it must be archived. Other content restrictions on internet companies were also recently imposed.

Many of the Yahoo's services were largely blocked in China, where Yahoo has operated since 1999. Since 2005, following a partnership deal with Alibaba Group Holding, Yahoo's services have slowly been phased out, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The company provided an early, stark example of the challenges U.S. internet firms faced operating in foreign countries, particularly China.

In 2004, Yahoo's China unit gave the Chinese authorities data that led to the imprisonment of at least two dissidents. Lawmakers and activists criticized the firm. Yahoo apologized for its role and settled a lawsuit brought by families of several Chinese activists.

China previously blocked Facebook, Google and most other global social media sites and search engines. Users in China can still access these services by using a virtual private network (VPN).

The news of departure of Yahoo, which is now owned by the private-equity firm Apollo Global Management, comes as other U.S. internet firms have left China.

In October, Microsoft stopped providing its LinkedIn business and employment service in China, citing a "more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China." (VOA/RN)

Keywords: Yahoo, Mainland China, Internet firms



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