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Zoom to suspend direct sales in mainland China, switches to partner-only model amid scrutiny

Video-conferencing app Zoom will suspend direct sales in mainland China starting August 23.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | August 4, 2020 | Updated 15:34 IST
(Source: Reuters)

Highlights

  • Zoom has announced that it will switch to a partner-only model in mainland China.
  • Users from mainland China will still be able to join as participants on Zoom calls.
  • In May, Zoom allowed only corporate and enterprise customers in mainland China to host calls.

Video conferencing company Zoom is suspending direct sales in mainland China. Zoom will function its video conferencing technology through its partners -- Bizconf Communications, Suirui Zhumu Video Conference, and Systec Umeet. The change will come into effect from August 23, 2020, CNBC noted. Although Zoom did not cite a reason for halting direct sales in mainland China, the move comes after the company faces scrutiny over ties with the country.

"Dear Customers, thank you for choosing our services. We wish to inform you that we will be selling services in Mainland China only through our partners. If you have a need for online video conferencing, you may reach out to our partners," Zoom said on its Chinese website.

"We are now shifting to a partner-only model with Zoom technology embedded in partner offerings, which will provide you better local support," the letter said.

Users in mainland China will be allowed to join Zoom meetings as participants. In May, Zoom allowed only enterprise customers to sign up. Free users were not allowed to host meetings but were allowed to join meetings by hosts.

Previously, Zoom came clean on the Tiananmen Square issue when it had shut down meetings from three activists--Lee Cheuk-yan, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo. Two activists from Hong Kong and one from the US.

Zoom had said that the Chinese government informed them about the activity being illegal in China and demanded that Zoom terminate the meetings and host accounts. Zoom said that it did not provide any user information or meeting content to the Chinese government. "We do not have a backdoor that allows someone to enter a meeting without being visible," Zoom had stated.

In a blogpost Zoom also reiterated that the company is American and not Chinese. The response was over allegations the company faced over having a Chinese link. Zoom did admit to routing data through Chinese servers back in May when there was a surge in users in the backdrop of global lockdowns.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan in a blog post wrote, "Recently, questions have also been raised about Zoom and China. At first, this seemed to stem from a temporary misconfiguration in our global data center routing that we fixed. But outside of that isolated incident, in the past few weeks, we have seen disheartening rumors and misinformation cropping up."

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