Silicon Valley startup incubator Y Combinator closing China unit

(Reuters) - Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley incubator of start-ups, said on Thursday it would close YC China, a Chinese version of its U.S. program.

The move comes as tensions rise between the United States and China over trade and intellectual property in the technology sector. Y Combinator said the decision was a change in strategy unrelated to problems between the two countries.

YC China was created in 2018 under the leadership of Qi Lu, a computer scientist who was an executive in Microsoft Corp and Chinese search engine Baidu Inc.

Y Combinator said in a blog post that the incubator had changed its strategy to supporting local and international startups from its Silicon Valley headquarters.

“As a result, we decided that now is not the right time to run a new, country-specific version of Y Combinator,” it said.

Incubators typically run programs for start-up founders to develop ideas and turn them into businesses. Notable Y Combinator program graduates include Airbnb, DoorDash and Dropbox.

Qi will now fund companies under his own program called MiraclePlus, according to the blog. He was not immediately available to comment.

Y Combinator said it will continue to support and fund Chinese companies interested in applying to its U.S. program.

Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee; editing by Peter Henderson and Dan Grebler