US-based video conferencing platform Zoom said on Monday that it will stop selling new and upgraded products directly to customers in mainland China from Aug. 23, and will only offer its services via third-party partners.
“Dear Customers, thank you for choosing our services,” the company announced on its Chinese website. “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].”
These local partners include Bizconf Communications, Suirui Zhumu Video Conference and Systec Umeet, as per the list on Zoom’s website. As Zoom is gaining popularity in China, it will embed its technology in these partners’ products so users in mainland China can still attend regular Zoom meetings as participants.
Though the company didn’t disclose any reason for the change, it has been pulling back in China amid intensifying tensions between the US and China. Zoom announced in May that it would suspend new free user registrations in China and only allow enterprise customers to sign up through authorized sales representatives.
The company has been criticized for its ties to China. In June, it shut down, and later reactivated, the account of a US-based Chinese pro-democracy activist.
Security researchers have also accused Zoom of re-routing calls through its servers in China, even though those calls were placed outside China. Zoom admitted in April that it mistakenly routed some meetings through data servers in China.
The company said that the re-routing happened in “extremely limited circumstances” and that it would not allow Chinese data centers to impact users outside of China.
Founded by Eric Yuan, a Chinese immigrant who is now a US citizen, the California-based company has a large portion of its development team based in China, according to a company regulatory filing from March.
Zoom’s move comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to ban TikTok and other Chinese apps for jeopardizing national security. US senators have urged the Justice Department to investigate Zoom and TikTok, citing concerns over potential security threats if they share private information with the Chinese government.