Microsoft Exec Says China Leads the World in Pandemic Response

The company frequently cooperates with Communist Party officials

Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and then-Chinese premier Li Keqiang in 2017 (Thomas Peter/AFP via Getty Images)
November 12, 2021

A Microsoft executive last week announced the company is expanding its operations in China, which he said is leading the world in pandemic response.

Microsoft China president Joe Bao called China the "most dynamic and innovative place" in the world in a speech at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai. Microsoft also announced it would be doubling its cloud capacity and launching a new data center in the country. Speaking to Shanghai Daily, Bao said, "Every country in the world is looking to China as a role model for how to emerge from a pandemic today." He also suggested that Microsoft's Chinese operations are increasingly important to the company, noting that "we really think that we have an opportunity to grow faster [in China] than Microsoft in the rest of the world."

Microsoft regularly complies with the Chinese Communist Party to maintain access to the country's lucrative market. Last month, the company overhauled its LinkedIn product to satisfy government demands. In September, Microsoft president Brad Smith personally met with top Chinese officials to discuss deepening the company's relationship with China.

Microsoft has completely revamped LinkedIn in China to comply with regulators, starting an identical platform that removes users' ability to post their opinions. LinkedIn regularly censors users, including journalists, for discussing topics the Chinese Communist Party considers sensitive, like Taiwan or Tiananmen Square. LinkedIn also censored a British national on his regular account after he criticized the Chinese government.

Microsoft's close ties with the regime have not stopped Chinese hackers from repeatedly breaching the company's systems and stealing sensitive data from millions of American citizens. On Monday, Microsoft said a Chinese hacking group was attacking its systems. The same group was behind the SolarWinds hack, which accessed sensitive federal information from multiple government departments. Microsoft's top scientist reported to Congress earlier this year that "China's domestic use of AI is a chilling precedent for anyone around the world who cherishes individual liberty."

Two days after a major breach of Microsoft systems by Chinese hackers in March, Microsoft announced it would expand its cloud computing services in China.