In China’s Tech News, Microsoft Offers to Relocate Employees

china, u.S. microsoft, employees, Sino-U.S. tensions

In China’s tech news today, Microsoft has offered hundreds of employees to relocate to other countries as the Sino-American tensions intensify.

  • Microsoft has asked 700-800 employees in China to consider relocating to the U.S., Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand.
  • The sudden request has caused confusion among employees, with some viewing it as a “disguised layoff.”

Microsoft has asked several hundred of its China-based employees to consider relocating to other countries, as Sino-U.S. tension increases.

According to Chinese news outlet The Paper, Microsoft has offered its employees the opportunity to move to destinations such as the U.S., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. Apparently, the request had no warning, confusing the employees, with some workers even believing it’s a “disguised layoff.”

A Microsoft spokesperson told CNN that this is part of the company’s regular global business management practices. “Providing internal opportunities is a regular part of managing our global business,” they said.

“As part of this process, we shared an optional internal transfer opportunity with a subset of employees.”

Keep in mind that this is not a matter of one, two or even a dozen employees. They extended the offer to anywhere between 700 and 800 employees. Employees who, according to The Wall Street Journal, are primarily engineers of Chinese nationality working on cloud computing and AI have until June to make their decision.

Industry insiders are as baffled by this move as everyone else. They told The Paper that, considering the large scale of the Chinese market and the high labor costs in the U.S., Microsoft’s intentions here are difficult to explain.

It comes at a time when the working relationship between the United States and China is increasingly strained. Just recently President Joe Biden announced new tariffs on $18 billion worth of Chinese imports, including electric vehicles and semiconductors. The tariffs are allegedly necessary to protect American industries from unfair competition.

That’s just the most recent development in the Sino-American war. The two powerhouses have a long history of intense rivalry. At any other time, the world would not have batted an eye and would have eaten up the excuse of global business management. It is safe to say that Big Tech sees the writing on the wall. And Microsoft is the first to hunker down before the storm that awaits corporations.

Microsoft entered the Chinese market 30 years ago, in 1992. Its Chinese subsidiary is the most complete one outside of the U.S. and includes its largest research and development center outside the U.S. as well. And to think that the tensions may break this decades-long working relationship…

But what really matters here are the little guys. The employees who have worked at the Beijing office and have more skin in the game. The tech giant is asking them to uproot their lives to move to another location… in this economy.

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