Microsoft's Bing search engine blocked in China

27 January, 2019, 09:32 | Author: Sally Reid
  • Microsoft's Bing search engine

Late on Wednesday, the Microsoft search engine was blocked, reportedly at the behest of the Chinese government for reasons unknown.

Bing's rival Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010, after rows with the authorities over censorship and hacking. Others can still access Cn.bing.com from outside China.

Microsoft, which recently overtook Apple as the world's most valuable company, is the latest United States tech giant to face difficulties in China. The U.S. software giant confirmed Bing could no longer be accessed in China and that it was "engaged to determine next steps". There has been no comment from the Cyberspace Administration of China.

Microsoft has a well-established research division in Beijing, with plans to open a new artificial intelligence lab in China.

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The second reason the decision is notable now is a result of Google's planned search product for the China market, a project known internally as Dragonfly and one that's caused an enormous backlash from both within and outside the company. The search engine is run by Microsoft and is one of the most used in the world behind Google.

Smith said Microsoft isn't certain whether the blocking of its search engine "is confined to Bing or if it is something that is broader". Under President Xi Jinping, who has solidified his power by abolishing term limits a year ago, China has grown more stringent with its control over the internet.

In order to appease the Chinese government Microsoft also allowed real-time interception of Skype messages within the country. Microsoft is also part of the Internet Society of China, "a government-linked body whose members refrain from establishing links to websites that contain information deemed harmful by China's Communist Party", Schmitz says. Other major networks like Twitter and Facebook have been blocked for years. A market leader with a share of 70% remains local service Baidu. Any action against Microsoft could set off alarm bells for US technology giants like Apple Inc. who now rely on the Chinese market, especially amid complaints that Beijing unfairly restricts market access to promote local champions. In fact, Chinese authorities have not even confirmed they have blocked Bing.

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