Will open source coding site GitHub survive in China?

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In October, Microsoft announced the closure of its corporate social network, LinkedIn, in China. Having to comply with Chinese state restrictions has become increasingly difficult, he said.

The career networking site had faced questions to block the profiles of certain journalists. LinkedIn will launch a jobs-only version of the site called InJobs later this year that doesn’t have a social thread or the ability to share or post.

This makes GitHub, also owned by Microsoft, one of the few western software platforms still accessible in China.

GitHub is the world’s largest open source coding platform. Here, software developers host their code in public for everyone to see, and take advantage of others around the world to rake it for errors. The code can be used for free, as long as improvements are added to the repository for others to use.

In 2020, nearly 10% of GitHub’s 56 million contributors were from China. GitHub there was a triumph for parent company Microsoft, which bought the platform for $ 7.5 billion in 2018.

With the departure of foreign social networks like Facebook and the rollback of LinkedIn services, GitHub is now the last major foreign platform accessible in China that hosts user-generated content – an unpredictable body of information that would normally be threatened with censorship. , screening and even summary blocking.

GitHub’s narrow engineering focus gives it the best chance of avoiding China’s onerous censorship of user comments on its social platforms. But there are some powerful reasons why GitHub may also be removed from use in China:

China’s long-term record of IPR infringement is well known and glaring. But the rule of law and respect for intellectual property are still important, whether formally between companies or informally in a coding repository.

The question is whether China will end up pressuring its own developers not to share innovations with the open source GitHub repository. One of the disappointments of the past decade is China’s demonstration that a successful knowledge-based economy does not require democracy.

Isaac Cheifetz, an executive recruiter for Twin Cities, can be contacted via catalytic1.com.


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