China reads Microsoft the riot act: Don't mess with antitrust inquiry

Steps up campaign against the U.S. company with public warning

Chinese authorities publicly warned Microsoft not to hinder the ongoing antitrust investigation into the company's practices in the People's Republic.

In a notice posted to the website of China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), one of several agencies with antitrust responsibilities, officials fired the latest shot in a volley that started a week ago.

"SAIC warn[ed] Microsoft [that it] should strictly abide by Chinese laws and may not interfere in any way [or] hinder investigation of the case," the agency's note stated, according to a machine-generated translation.

Regulators have also questioned Mary Snapp, a Microsoft deputy general counsel, as part of the investigation.

Microsoft's response to the SAIC's statement was similar to what it said last week. "We¹re serious about complying with China¹s laws and committed to addressing SAIC¹s questions and concerns," a company spokesperson said.

On Monday, SAIC also said that Microsoft had pledged to abide by Chinese laws, and to cooperate with the investigation.

The latest brouhaha between China and Microsoft began a week ago when 100 investigators and police made surprise visits to Microsoft offices in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai. Authorities seized computers, internal emails, contracts and financial information and interviewed senior managers and other personnel in the company's marketing and finance departments.

A day later, SAIC confirmed the raids, saying that officials were gathering evidence for an ongoing antitrust investigation on how Microsoft sells Windows and the Office suite in the country.

Not surprisingly, state-controlled media ran prominent news stories of the SAIC statement: The investigation has been closely reported by government and Communist Party mouthpieces.

"Investigators from the State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) warned that the company must firmly abide by Chinese law, and shall not interfere with the investigation 'in any way,'" the Xinhau News Agency, an official government press arm, said in a story Monday.

The People's Daily, a Party organ, reprinted the Xinhua piece.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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