Microsoft’s Bing Blocked in China for Two Days

Microsoft’s Bing Blocked in China for Two Days

Microsoft-run search engine Bing was unavailable in mainland China attempting to open results in an error message, though users can still access Bing's worldwide site using a virtual private network (VPN), which allows people to circumvent China's "Great Firewall" of censorship.

China Unicom, one of China's major state-owned telecommunication companies, confirmed the government had ordered a block on Bing, the FT said citing a source. Google withdrew its search engine and other websites in 2010 to avoid censorship and any compromise to its commitment to a free and open internet.

Searches performed on Bing's China website at from within mainland China on Wednesday directed users to a page saying the server could not be reached.

The two-day Bing ban was Microsoft'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.

Social media users have expressed concern that the search engine might be the latest foreign website to be blocked by censors.

"There are times when there are disagreements, there are times when there are hard negotiations with the Chinese government, and we're still waiting to find out what this situation is about", he said. It operated by censoring search results on sensitive topics, as has been demanded by the Xi Jinping government.

For years, Microsoft's Bing search engine has been available in China, despite the country's strict online censorship.

In 2018 alone, Beijing shuttered 26,000 "illegal" websites and deleted six million online posts containing vulgar content, the official Xinhua news agency said earlier this month.

A move to block Bing would be surprising because Microsoft has sought to build a local operation on Beijing's terms. Microsoft didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but is reportedly investigating the matter. Communist leaders face a year rich with sensitive dates, including the 70th anniversary of the country's founding on October 1 and the 30th anniversary of the party's crackdown on democracy activists in Tiananmen Square on June 4.

Both the USA and China have already levied tit-fot-tat tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods, and Trump made good on his pledge to escalate the trade war, directing Lighthizer to find another $200 billion worth of products to hit.

The service outage comes as Beijing ramps up its push to scrub the domestic internet, which it sees as a growing threat to social stability.

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