Airbnb, a home rental company, plans to shut down its domestic business in China, in a further sign of the internet decoupling between China and much of the rest of the world.
Airbnb, which has operated in China since 2016, is retreating from the country after struggling to compete with local “superapps” that charge lower fees and less per night on average than in other regions, said a person with knowledge of the situation. The pandemic compounded Airbnb’s business woes, the person said, as China’s “zero-Covid” policy sent millions into strict lockdown.
Airbnb’s move highlights a growing divide between China’s internet and that of the rest of the world. Many U.S. internet companies have left China after Beijing emphasized domestic businesses, exercised censorship and made other demands of companies. LinkedIn, the only remaining U.S. social network to operate in China, pulled out of the country in October, citing a lack of success with its social media and information features. Airbnb is the last remaining big U.S. internet company in China.
Airbnb, based in San Francisco, will continue to operate a business serving Chinese tourists who were traveling outside of China, the person with knowledge of the situation said. It will keep its Beijing office open with a few hundred employees, the person added.