LinkedIn officially pulls the plug on services in China

On August 9, workplace social platform LinkedIn officially announced the discontinuation of its localised job search app in China. Beginning today, the app and all associated products and services, including mobile apps, desktop websites, and WeChat applets, will cease operation in the nation.

The closure comes as no surprise as InCareer, the Chinese version of LinkedIn’s app, informed its users in July about the decision to cease operations due to intense competition and a challenging economic landscape. Users were notified that their InCareer account data would be deleted after August 9, signalling the conclusion of this chapter.

Many of China’s former LinkedIn users lamented the loss of the networking app. One white-collar professional from Shanghai, who had been an avid user for a decade, expressed her disappointment in the platform’s exit from China. She lauded her positive experiences with LinkedIn and its role in job hunting and networking, hoping that one day the platform might return to the country. Another user based in Beijing emphasised LinkedIn’s unique value as a networking tool. He appreciated the platform’s ability to connect professionals and senior managers, enabling fruitful discussions about potential job opportunities.

However, the network’s exit from China does not come without context. Over the years, LinkedIn’s presence in China had been marked by challenges, including its struggle to navigate the country’s strict content censorship. In 2021, the platform faced scrutiny from Chinese regulators over political content, leading to temporary user sign-up suspensions. The removal of its “social media feature” in 2021 due to compliance challenges with Chinese censorship further highlighted the platform’s limitations.

LinkedIn’s entry into China dates back to 2014, with a localised version attracting more than 4 million members in its inaugural year. As of May 2023, LinkedIn boasted over 900 million members worldwide, including more than 60 million in China alone.

Industry observers note that, without its social media feature, LinkedIn struggled to compete with local Chinese apps that offered enhanced features and were more aligned with domestic user preferences. Having said that, the company’s withdrawal underscores the challenges Western platforms face when it comes to navigating China’s complex digital landscape.


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