In fact, Microsoft continues to increase its presence in the Chinese market
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Edit | Xie Lirong
Recently, when Chinese users register and log in to Microsoft Office, Windows, Azure and other products, they will be reminded that "your data will be processed outside your country or region." If the user refuses authorization, it cannot be used. Some people think that Microsoft will withdraw from China.
Microsoft China said in a statement on March 9 that it always strictly abides by all laws and regulations regarding privacy protection and data security. All products and services provided by Microsoft, as well as cross-border data management, strictly comply with laws and regulations. Why is it necessary to remind Chinese users to transfer their data to other countries or regions? Microsoft officials did not respond to Financial Eleven.
In a detailed description of the user alert, Microsoft says data is transferred to other countries or regions to "enable the product to work as intended." Microsoft transfers data when users use certain products offered specifically in China. Data transmission places including but not limited to the United States. For those who have paid but do not want to authorize, Microsoft offers a refund channel.
Microsoft engineers told Financial Eleven that due to system maintenance and update, currently users cannot buy and use the Chinese version of various products on the official website, only the international version, so there will be a reminder of data transmission. If you want to buy the Chinese version, you should contact the relevant sales staff separately. About the system update time, the engineer said, the relevant technical personnel said there is no specific time. Domestic users' data will be processed at data centers in Beijing and Shanghai, and those in China using the international version will be processed at data centers in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the international version will require users to authorize "data transfers."
Many Microsoft products, including Azure and Office, are operated by 21Vianet Blue Cloud in the Chinese market. An official from Blue Cloud said in response to Caijing Eleven that Microsoft's statement referred to "consumer product data used by individual users, and the current public opinion has nothing to do with 21Vianet."
According to the Data Security Law, the Cyber Security Law and other regulations, foreign companies involved in critical information infrastructure, including cloud computing and big data, must set up independent data centers in China or have them hosted by Chinese companies. Where it is really necessary to provide such equipment overseas due to business needs, security assessment shall be carried out in accordance with the measures formulated by the State cyberspace administration in conjunction with relevant departments under The State Council; Where laws or administrative regulations provide otherwise, such provisions shall prevail.
In addition, according to a new regulation issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China in September 2022, companies in China can legally declare if they want to transfer data overseas, and the reporting period is six months until March this year. Over the past six months, a number of foreign and local companies have submitted applications, and so far, two have been approved, with no Microsoft-related companies or products.
Microsoft Azure China's home page mentions that the Cyber Security Law does not provide specific guidance on cyber security assessment, that Microsoft's draft regulations and draft guidelines to develop a cyber security assessment framework have been sent out but have not been adopted, and that Azure China has not been classified as "critical information infrastructure" as of July 2020.
According to the Regulations on the Security Protection of Critical Information Infrastructure adopted in April 2021, "critical information infrastructure" refers to important industries and fields such as public communication and information services, energy, transportation, water conservancy, finance, public services, e-government, national defense science, technology and industry, as well as other industries that are damaged, lose function or have their data leaked. Important network facilities and information systems that may seriously endanger national security, national economy and people's livelihood, and public interests. No complete list of companies and platforms has been made public.
Microsoft Azure is the No. 2 public cloud platform in the world, second only to Amazon AWS in market share. However, in China's cloud services market, Azure is not in the top 5.
While Azure says it is not yet a "critical information infrastructure", its operations in China have previously complied with requirements.
Azure China was launched in 2012 and is operated by 21Vianet. Founded in 1996, 21Vianet is an infrastructure service provider in China. Listed on NASDAQ in 2011, 21Vianet works with foreign companies including Microsoft, IBM and Foxconn to operate their cloud services in the Chinese market.
In March 2014, Azure launched two data centers in China, becoming the first international public cloud to be commercially available in the Chinese market. After that, Microsoft Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform operated by 21Vianet were launched in China in 2014, 2019 and 2020 successively.
According to the Azure website, there is a physical isolation between Azure China Cloud Computing services and Azure Global Services. Azure China is operated by 21Vianet and uses data centers located in China. Currently Azure China has a total of five data centers, the latest of which opened in March 2022 and is located in Hebei Province.
Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Power BI, which are operated by 21Vianet, operate only in data centers located on the Chinese mainland and are managed and monitored by 21Vianet operations staff, according to the company's website. Personal data will be stored on servers located in mainland China and will not be transmitted outside the platform without users' consent.
In the past year, Microsoft has continued to increase its investment in China. In addition to building new data centers, Tao Ran, general manager of Azure product Marketing Department of Microsoft Greater China, said in an interview with the media in March 2022 that Microsoft China's commitment to and investment in the Chinese cloud service market and the digital transformation of Chinese customers have continued to increase. At the Microsoft Tech Conference last October, Microsoft announced that the Teams service in Office 365 and Microsoft 365 service operated by 21Vianet will be launched in the first half of 2023, hoping to bring better localized service experience and technical support to the Chinese market. On March 3 this year, Microsoft China signed a cooperation agreement with the Kunshan City government, and the first industrial metaspace application center project was located in Kunshan High-tech Zone.
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