China Blocks Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine
As Google backs away from plans to introduce a re-engineered search engine to the Chinese market after provoking a chorus of scrutiny from lawmakers and its own employees, the Chinese government has abruptly blocked Microsoft’s Bing from the Chinese Internet. The decision removes the only major foreign search engine left in China, according to the Financial Times. It makes Microsoft the latest US tech firm to be ousted from China since the Whatsapp messaging app was blocked in 2017.
While the website cn.bing.com couldn’t be accessed from the mainland, the state remained accessible outside China.
The FT noted that the ban comes amid rumors that trade talks between the US and China are deteriorating (though China on Thursday backed up Larry Kudlow’s claims that the talks were progressing as expected).
State-owned telecom China Unicom has confirmed the order came from within the government, which said it had spotted “illegal content” on the search engine, though it’s still unclear what triggered the ban because China’s Cyberspace Administration has refused to comment. However, the New York Times pointed out that the ban followed a viral social media post by former journalist Fang Kecheng, who accused dominant Chinese search engine Baidu – which sops up 70% of China’s search traffic – of favoring its own products in its search results. The viral post is believed to have driven more traffic to Bing.
Microsoft confirmed that Bing is “currently inaccessible” in China but didn’t say whether this is a temporary or permanent ban.
“We’ve confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps,” Microsoft said in a statement.
The Communist Party’s seemingly arbitrary decision to bar Bing comes after Microsoft’s yearslong efforts to ingratiate itself with the Chinese leadership. As NYT reporter Paul Mozur explained in a twitter thread, Microsoft has repeatedly bent over backwards to accommodate China, including tolerating the widespread piracy of its products, only for its search engine to be abruptly blocked from the country’s Internet.
See Mozur’s Twitter thread and Continue Reading…
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