Microsoft's Bing search engine blocked in China

Muriel Colon
January 26, 2019

But it was not clear whether or not Bing joined the long list of prohibited websites, or if its China service was experiencing technical difficulties.

Attempts to open has resulted in an error message for users since Wednesday, taking away the most prominent foreign search engine available in China.

The Financial Times cites "two sources familiar with the government's order", who confirmed that China had blocked the search engine.

"We've confirmed that Bing is now inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps", a Microsoft spokesman said Thursday.

It is the United States technology giant's second setback in China since November 2017 when its Skype Internet phone call and messaging service was pulled from Apple and Android app stores. Microsoft, however, did comply with the Chinese government's policies to keep Bing from being blocked, though something must have changed for the latest ban.

The company declined to provide details about the cause of the disruption and return of the search engine.

However, Bing is not the only internet-based service that has been blocked/taken down in the country. Even though there are speculations about Bing being the next victim of the "Great Firewall of China", Microsoft says that it may very well be a glitch, as well.

Microsoft is part of the Internet Society of China, a government-linked body whose members pledge to refrain "from establishing links to websites that contain harmful information" or share any content which could "jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability, contravene laws and regulations and spread superstition and obscenity". "This is just the Chinese authorities being the Chinese authorities".

Many US tech companies are keen to tap into the Chinese market, but have a hard relationship with the authorities in Beijing.

Facebook attempted to set up an office in China a year ago, but appears to have been blocked.

Chinese tech firm Baidu is the dominant player, accounting for 70% of the market past year, according to research firm StatCounter.

Although Bing enjoyed only about 2 percent of China's search engine market, its banishment was significant in a country known for controlling electronic access to information.

Smith said it was understood that Bing did not have the same legal freedoms in China that it enjoyed in other countries.

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