LinkedIn announced on 14 October that it will be shutting down its localised China site, cn.linkedin.com, by the end of 2021. It won't be pulling out of the Chinese market completely - the platform will be replaced by a new app, InJobs, which the announcement on the LinkedIn blog describes as "a new, standalone jobs application for China. InJobs will not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles."
In other words, LinkedIn plans to strip away its social media function for China-based users, a move that should not be entirely surprising given how closed the Chinese market is to foreign social media. Almost every other non-Chinese social media site has been banned on the mainland, some for more than a decade, and local platforms have thrived in the resulting vacuum. LinkedIn may have been spared so far because its main function is to enable job search and professional networking. However, China's regulatory environment has become increasingly restrictive recently, and the Chinese government has been sending strong signals that it no longer favours what it terms "soft tech", so LinkedIn's withdrawal may be at least partially an economic decision.
On the other hand, the announcement openly cites freedom of expression as a reason: while it cites a "significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China", it also says, "While we’ve found success in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunity, we have not found that same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed."
Whatever the reasoning, the planned introduction of InJobs indicates that LinkedIn is clearly not abandoning China, which CNBC suggests is its third largest market. LinkedIn in China currently serves not only as a job search platform, but also as a channel for Chinese companies to find foreign business opportunities. Furthermore, it has few competitors in the professional networking market - the biggest is Maimai, which surpassed it in user numbers several years ago.