On Thursday, users in China reported being unable to access Bing, making it the latest foreign technology service shut behind the country's Great Firewall. Rumours suggest that the move to block access to the site by the state-owned telecommunications company, China Unicom, was a result of a direct order from the Chinese government although these claims have yet to be substantiated. Bing was the last major foreign search engine operating in China after Google pulled out in 2010.
Microsoft's search engine Bing.com is no longer accessible 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". Microsoft's Bing was one of the few services developed by a U.S. company to remain available in the country, in spite of competing with local government-connected services.
Chinese officials have refused to comment on the issue, but this is not particularly out of the ordinary for the Chinese government, which rarely discusses how or why it censors particular information sources. The block comes despite Microsoft's efforts to build a local operation on Beijing's terms.
China-based messaging services and social media are restricted, with key words and expressions blocked if they express dissent or ridicule senior political leaders. Microsoft Bans Cryptocurrency Ads on Bing Search Engine.
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Google recently suffered a backlash and protests from its employees over the company's covert attempt to get back into China. Microsoft has largely been adept at working with Chinese authorities to ensure its services are available to the country's 1.3 billion people.
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. Other major networks like Twitter and Facebook have been blocked for years.
"The fact that Bing is run by Microsoft, which is not a Chinese company, means that Beijing has less leverage over the company, compared to say Baidu", said Lokman Tsui, an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. By all appearances Microsoft was following the government's policy on internet communications, including the censoring of search results.