GitHub: Why come to China? How to get into China? What’s the point?

Erica Brescia, GitHub’s chief operating officer, said in an interview that GitHub was considering setting up a subsidiary in China because of U.S. government restrictions, the Financial Times reported. If GitHub’s china entry program is implemented, it will be significant for both GitHub and Chinese developers.

GitHub: Why come to China? How do I get into China? What's the point?

Why is GitHub coming to China?

As Erica Brescia noted in an interview, GitHub’s consideration of a subsidiary in China is due to concerns about U.S. government restrictions. In fact, earlier this year, GitHub caused a backlash from developers in Russia, Iran, Syria and Cuba over U.S. pressure.

Hamed Saeedi, an Iranian developer, wrote a complaint:

GitHub blocked my account and they thought I was developing a nuclear weapon.

GitHub: Why come to China? How do I get into China? What's the point?

 Nat Friedman Twitter screenshot

It’s not just Hamed Saeedi, but on social media abroad, there are a large number of developers who are unhappy with GitHub’s restrictions on access due to nationality. GitHub CEO Nat Friedman then responded on Twitter, explaining:

It’s painful to hear how trade restrictions hurt people. We did our best to do only what is required by law. But obviously, people will still be affected. GitHub is subject to U.S. trade laws, just like any company doing business in the U.S. Unfortunately, in order to comply with U.S. sanctions, we have to impose restrictions on accounts in Iran, Syria and Crimea.

As a result, there are examples of other countries in the front, in order to keep the Chinese market, GitHub to consider a subsidiary in China is also justified. So why does GitHub value the Chinese market so much?

According to GitHub’s 2019 annual report, GitHub currently has more than 40 million developer users worldwide, 80 percent of them outside the United States. And over the past year, nearly 10 million new developers have joined the GitHub community, contributing to 44 million open source projects worldwide.

Outside the United States, China is the most open source-using country. Data show that in 2019, China’s developers fork and clone projects increased by 48% compared to last year.

In addition, in terms of the number of contributions from open source projects, the largest contributors are In Hong Kong, China. In addition to open source projects, the developer community in Asia is growing rapidly in 2019 in terms of public and private contributions, with 31% of Asian contributors coming from China.

As a result, Chinese developers are an integral part of GitHub, and losing the Chinese market could have a significant impact on GitHub’s revenue.

It’s worth noting that GitHub was acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion in 2018 and is now part of The Microsoft subsidiary’s GitHub program, which is actually part of Microsoft’s presence in China, after all, Microsoft’s cloud service Azure has already been deployed in China, and GitHub could work with China if it were to Azure creates synergies to further strengthen Microsoft’s presence in the Chinese developer community.

How will GitHub get into China?

In fact, GitHub’s desire to enter China has long been a sign. This year, Erica Brescia has visited China several times. In mid-September, Erica Brescia personally hosted GitHub’s first event in China. In December, Erica Brescia also held meetings with developers in Shenzhen and Beijing.

GitHub: Why come to China? How do I get into China? What's the point?

Lei Feng Net-a-Porter: Photo by Erica Brescia Twitter Screenshot

Although GitHub’s entry into China is still in its infancy, there have been predictions about how GitHub will enter China.

One speculation suggests that GitHub could set up a new subsidiary in China under The Chinese government’s jurisdiction and set up servers in mainland China. However, this may raise questions about the jurisdiction of computer code databases between China and the United States.

Another guess is to place servers in non-Inland China but close to China, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. This resolves the server’s slow response.

In the interview, Erica Brescia also revealed how GitHub has entered China. She noted that GitHub plans to consider setting up a foreign wholly-owned subsidiary in China to hire staff from the general manager level before exploring “the possibility of joint ventures and hosting GitHub content in China.”

In addition, Erica Brescia added that GitHub had met with officials from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Public Security. China as a whole has been making a strategic push around open source, which, she argues, provides a way to connect with other parts of the world of software development without relying on proprietary technology.

What’s the point of GitHub coming to China?

In digital technology in all fields today, open source is an indispensable presence in the development of China’s science and technology. 360 Chairman Zhou Hongxuan has mentioned that without open source software, China’s Internet may not be so fast-growing;

Not only that, he also believes that open source is not only a software development method, in fact, behind a form of economic development, but also an innovative mechanism. It can be seen that open source is of importance to China.

GitHub is the world’s largest open source community, and GitHub means to developers, as Microsoft CEO Satya NadelLa says. Satya Nadella once said that digital technology is now spread across society and the economy, with software developers architects of digital technology and GitHub “home for developers.”

GitHub: Why come to China? How do I get into China? What's the point?

It’s worth noting that Mr. Zhou has also talked about GitHub’s impact on China, saying:

There’s a joke in the industry that china’s AI will go back five years if GitHub goes out of business. Why? Because many of the AI computing frameworks we use are based on international open source development.

Now, this “developer’s home” is planned to be in China, so why not for Chinese developers?

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