Would Microsoft Really Consider Ditching China?
from the unlikely dept
There’s a lot of chatter today about the statements from a Microsoft exec on the issue of selling into China, despite complaints about human rights abuses in the country. While many of the other tech companies have been giving their best corporate double speak to tiptoe around the issue, Microsoft’s Fred Tipson became an instant story by suggesting that Microsoft might consider “pulling out” of China. However, when you look at the specifics of what he said, it’s really not as big a deal as it sounds. There are a lot of conditional statements in there: “Things are getting bad… and perhaps we have to look again at our presence there… We have to decide if the persecuting of bloggers reaches a point that it’s unacceptable to do business there…. We try to define those levels and the trends are not good there at the moment. It’s a moving target.” It really sounds like he’s being honest. The company (like most companies) is monitoring the situation, and will see if it ever reaches a point that they consider to be beyond the pale. However, it doesn’t sound like they’ve hit that point just yet — and considering the market’s sheer size and the amount of money and effort Microsoft has put into China, you’d have to think the company is staying put. If anything, the statement was either a brief moment of honesty (which he might regret), or perhaps designed to act as something of a signal to (a) China, to clean up its act (b) other companies to see if they’ll react similarly, as Microsoft would likely only pull out if it looked like a bunch of companies would all pull out together or (c) the protesters who are upset about Microsoft’s actions, and who may be placated by thinking at least Microsoft is thinking about pulling out, unlike the others. Perhaps it’s all three at once.