Published: Sun, January 27, 2019
Money | By Bruce West

Microsoft's Bing search engine inaccessible in China

Microsoft's Bing search engine inaccessible in China

Microsoft's Bing search engine is no longer available in China.

Credit: Casimiro PT/ShutterstockMicrosoft's Bing search engine has been unexpectedly blocked in China without any official statement from the government.

Microsoft's search engine Bing appeared to have been blocked in China with users saying they have not been able to access the site since Thursday.

Many other foreign websites including Google, Facebook, and Twitter have always been blocked in the country for offering unfiltered content, including information critical of the Chinese government. "We've confirmed that Bing is now inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps", a Microsoft spokesperson later told PCMag without elaborating. CEO Sundar Pichai said the company had "no plans" to relaunch a search engine in the country when questioned by US Congress.

"Two sources familiar with the government order confirmed that Bing had been blocked".

A move to block Bing would be surprising because Microsoft has sought to build a local operation on Beijing's terms.

Its main competitor in mainland China is Baidu, which this week pledged to improve its media aggregating service after a complaint about the quality of the service and its search results went viral on social media. Other major networks like Twitter and Facebook have been blocked for years.

Chinese censors crack down on content and conversations about subjects deemed sensitive by Beijing, including the Tiananmen Square massacre, Tibet and criticism of President Xi. The search engine is run by Microsoft and is one of the most used in the world behind Google. "China's Internet regulator has yet to comment on the issue".

Because of Google's nonattendance, state-controlled Baidu has emerged as the nation's leading search provider, controlling more than 70 percent of the market.

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

Microsoft has maintained an office in Beijing since 1992.

"Providing the Chinese government with ready access to user data, as required by Chinese law, would make Google complicit in oppression and human rights abuses", the November letter created by Google Employees Against Dragonfly states. The company has even misdirected Chinese users to government's own accounts about certain events or people.

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