Proving once again that AOL is hapless when trying to operate outside its safe confines of the United States, America Online China is shutting its doors.
According to an insider from America Online China, affected by the global financial crisis, AOL's American headquarters has decided to withdraw its business in China and the employees in the Beijing office will soon be dismissed. This means this American website will again leave the Chinese mainland market after it returned for less than one year.
AOL returned to the Chinese mainland Internet market in April 2008 and its official Chinese website cn.aol.com was launched soon after. At that time, AOL also launched Chinese websites that targeted Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Prior to that, AOL set up a joint venture with Chinese PC giant Lenovo in 2001 and the two companies jointly invested USD100 million in setting up a Chinese portal FM365.com. However, the joint venture was unsuccessful and was closed in 2004. And previous to that, AOL invested in China.com, a second-tier website in China, and then pulled out its stake.
So far, no certain news about whether AOL will also withdraw its Hong Kong and Taiwan businesses has been revealed.