While the company says the move will serve Chinese users better, the decision appears to be a new way for it to insulate itself as platforms with operations in both the US and China face harsher scrutiny in both countries. A number of US and Chinese tech companies are scrambling to find ways to walk the tightrope between Washington and Beijing, most prominently Beijing-based ByteDance, which faces the choice of selling off, TikTok, its best-known overseas product, or having it banned in the US.

In June, Zoom was accused of bowing to China for shutting down meetings related to Tiananmen protests, including suspending the accounts of overseas Chinese dissidents at Beijing’s request, prompting many to  question whether it’s safe to use the platform, including professors at US universities where it’s become the go-to platform for online teaching.  The company didn’t offer the most reassuring response—it said it had to comply with “local laws” in China and that it would fine-tune its technology to allow it to censor users based on their geography in future. Last week, US senators Josh Hawley and Richard Blumenthal wrote a letter urging the justice department to investigate Zoom and TikTok over privacy and censorship concerns.

Earlier this year Zoom stopped offering free accounts in China or allowing free users to host meetings on the platform, which had become a window for users in China to connect with people overseas—including on taboo topics.

By moving to offering its technology only through platforms operated by third parties, Zoom will be able to hand off to these partners the messy business of making sure users in China aren’t discussing topics the Communist Party doesn’t want them to. Zoom can then argue that it is not really responsible for censorship of users in China, while maintaining operations and generating revenues there.

Zoom has no plans to close its offices and data centers in China yet, and users in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau will continue to have similar access to the video-conferencing platform as people overseas, according to a source familiar with the strategy.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.