Beijing has sternly put Microsoft on notice to comply with the Chinese government’s antitrust case — or else.

In language usually reserved for political opponents, dissidents, or countries it has a beef with, China warned Microsoft not to interfere with its antitrust investigation into the Seattle-based giant. Beijing accuses Microsoft of failing to share or release documents for its Windows OS and Office software suites.

A harshly worded statement on the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) website officially warned Microsoft to follow state law and, according to the New York Times, “not to interfere with or hinder the investigation in any way.”

The warning falls on the heels of raids that SAIC agents carried at Microsoft offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Chengdu in late July.

While the raids didn’t result in any arrests, agents seized documents and computers. The move appears to be an attempt to send a message to Microsoft and other U.S. technology outfits operating in China that Beijing has issues with the increased presence and influence of foreign tech companies inside the country — and the potential for them to engage in spying.

In fact, China is increasingly using its muscle to confront U.S. tech companies who provide Beijing and its people with software and hardware. It sends a big message that China is weary of its reliance on U.S. technology and that the Asian superpower needs to be more reliant on products and services by Chinese IT companies.

The warning is a byproduct, too, the Times said, of China’s increasing concern over Edward Snowden’s epic document leaks about National Security Agency spying. China fears that the NSA is using Microsoft and other U.S. tech firms to insert Trojan horses and spyware into technology widely used by the Chinese government, like desktops PCs and software.

Their fears could be seen as well-founded. But the tactics here are purely Cold War.


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