Microsoft looking to relocate hundreds of China-based workers as diplomatic tensions rise

It's shutting TechNet's shop for good (Image credit: Future)

Microsoft is reportedly advising some of its employees in China to consider transferring to other countries amid geopolitical tensions brought on by the US-China battle over advanced technologies.

A report by The Wall Street Journal claims the company is asking around 700-800 of its China-based workers involved in machine learning and cloud computing to consider moving to countries like the US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Citing an unnamed source familiar with the case, the WSJ reported that affected workers have been given until early June to commit to a move, however it also appears that workers can also choose to stay in China.

Microsoft pulling workers out of China

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to TechRadar Pro: “Providing internal opportunities is a regular part of managing our global business. As part of this process, we shared an optional internal transfer opportunity with a subset of employees.”

The move comes amid America’s efforts to limit China’s access to advanced AI chips, which Washington worries could help boost Beijing’s military capabilities. The Biden Administration has imposed various restrictions on the country, including limiting and increasing tariffs on certain imports and exports.

Microsoft has a significant presence in China, including its Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group which employs over 6,000 scientists and engineers in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Suzhou, as well as Taiwan’s Taipei and Japan’s Tokyo.

Keeping peace between China and the US isn’t the only challenge that Microsoft faces – the Redmond giant continues to make operational efficiency changes despite being the world’s most valuable company, with a market cap of $3.13 trillion.

At the beginning of the year, it laid off around 1,900 workers from Xbox, Activision Blizzard and ZeniMax, accounting for around 8% of its gaming headcount.

Microsoft's spokesperson added: "We remain committed to the region and will continue to operate in this and other markets where we have a presence."

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!