Yesterday, Microsoft announced in a statement, that their popular Bing search engine was banned in China. This would be Microsoft’s second setback since November 2017, after its Skype internet phone call and messaging service were discontinued from Apple and Android app stores.
When users within China’s mainland tried performing a search on Bing’s China website–cn.bing.com–they were redirected to a page which read, the server cannot be reached.
Chinese authorities have a firewall that blocks most of the US-based tech platforms including Facebook and Twitter. However, Microsoft has not reported if this outage could be because of the censorship or simply a technical problem.
A Microsoft spokesperson said, “We’ve confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps.”
Microsoft’s Bing was the only major foreign search engine accessible from within China-built Great Firewall. Bing’s biggest rival, Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010, after rows with the authorities over censorship and hacking. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, said that it has no plans to relaunch a search engine in China. Microsoft, however, has censored search results on sensitive topics, in accordance with government policy.
Citing a source, The Financial Times, yesterday, reported that China Unicom, a major state-owned telecommunication company, had confirmed the government order to block the search engine.
Also, Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), a government watchdog, did not respond to faxed questions about Bing’s blocked website. CAC also said that it has also deleted more than 7 million pieces of online information and 9,382 mobile apps.
“President Xi Jinping has accelerated control of the internet in China since 2016, as the ruling Communist Party seeks to crack down on dissent in the social media landscape”, the Reuters reported.