China warns Microsoft not to obstruct antitrust probe

The country's State Administration for Industry and Commerce has not charged Microsoft with obstructing its probe but says the company needs to tread carefully.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has more trouble in China. James Martin/CNET

China has cautioned Microsoft that any attempt to obstruct its antitrust probe would be a bad move, according to a new report.

China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), the government agency tasked with ensuring competition in the marketplace, told Reuters in an e-mailed statement on Monday that Microsoft should not in any way attempt to obstruct its investigation into antitrust practices.

The SAIC did not charge Microsoft with obstructing its investigation but made clear that the company has "promised to respect Chinese law and fully cooperate," according to Reuters.

The agency raided several Microsoft offices across China last week after launching an investigation into possible antitrust violations. The SAIC is concerned that Microsoft's products fail to fall in line with the country's rules on compatibility and document authentication, effectively forcing Chinese consumers to use more Microsoft products than they might otherwise.

Microsoft has remained tight-lipped on the investigation, saying only that it complies with Chinese law. It's not clear from the statement to Reuters exactly why SAIC is issuing it now or why it feels the need to warn Microsoft that obstruction would be a bad idea. As of now, there is no evidence that Microsoft has obstructed the investigation.

China is in the middle of a broad technology evaluation, saying through its state-owned news outlets that it believes at least some US companies are spying on the Chinese government on behalf of the US. Microsoft, as one of the largest and most prominent US companies in China, has been affected by the accusations. Windows 8, for instance, was banned from China's government computers, and the company's cloud storage solution OneDrive has been disrupted there.

Microsoft has yet to publicly comment on the latest SAIC comments. CNET has contacted the company and will update this story when we have more information.