Four Microsoft offices have received abrupt visits from Chinese government officials on Monday, but the reason for the raids is still unknown.
According to a report by Reuters, China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce made visits to Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
Microsoft has had a tenuous relationship with the Chinese government since Edward Snowden’s disclosures revealed that Microsoft technology had been used to aid the NSA in cyberespionage. Chinese state media even called for “severe punishment” against US tech firms for helping the government steal secrets and monitor China, Reuters said.
Chinese network equipment supplier Huawei was one of the companies allegedly targeted by the NSA as leaked documents surfaced in March that showed the agency had infiltrated its servers for the purpose of spying. In May, Chinese government agencies asked some banks to replace IBM servers with a local brand as part of a trial program in order to better protect China’s financial security from the US.
Government offices were banned in May from installing Windows 8 on new computers, and in July, Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service was being disrupted in China. However, in the spring, Microsoft launched Office 365 and Microsoft Azure public cloud in China through a partnership with local firm 21Vianet.
As GigaOM points out, the raids on Microsoft could be part of the investigation that Chinese authorities promised to pursue after the US indicted Chinese army officials over espionage.