Microsoft search engine Bing is blocked in China

Microsoft's Bing search engine has hit a wall in China."We've confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next...

Posted: Jan 24, 2019 8:22 AM

Microsoft's Bing search engine has hit a wall in China.

"We've confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps," a Microsoft spokesman said Thursday. Bing was the last major foreign search engine operating in China after Google pulled out in 2010.

Bing appears to have joined a growing list of global internet platforms that are shut out of China's huge market, demonstrating that even tech companies that submit to Beijing's strict internet censorship regime can still run into trouble in the country.

Microsoft's setback comes as China and the United States are locked in a widening confrontation over technology and access to each other's markets that experts warn could be the start of an economic cold war.

It wasn't immediately clear why Bing was being blocked. China's internet regulator didn't respond to a request for comment Thursday, and the Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Chinese users first noticed problems with the search engine late Wednesday, when the phrase "Can't access Bing" started popping up on social media.

"It's not the first time that we've encountered issues like this for Bing in China, these do arise periodically," Microsoft President Brad Smith said during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Microsoft, which recently overtook Apple as the world's most valuable company, has encountered problems in China before. The company's internet video and phone call platform Skype was pulled from Apple and third-party Android app stores in China in November 2017.

The Bing blackout comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping's government seeks to tighten its control of the internet using the vast censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall.

On Wednesday, the same day Bing started to become inaccessible for users, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced that it had closed 733 websites and shut down 9,382 apps in a crackdown on "harmful" information.

"Over the past couple months, it appears the Chinese government has improved [the] accuracy and frequency of the Great Firewall blocking," said Sunday Yokubaitis, CEO of internet services company Golden Frog.

"The Great Firewall is only getting better," he added.

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."

Playing by Beijing's rules

Top US internet platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube 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. They also punish sites that fail to weed out material like pornography and crude content that the ruling Communist Party considers vulgar or otherwise harmful to society.

Bing was able to operate its Chinese site, cn.bing.com, because it censored its search results.

Microsoft is part of the Internet Society of China, a government-linked body whose members pledge to refrain "from establishing links to websites that contain harmful information" or share any content which could "jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability, contravene laws and regulations and spread superstition and obscenity."

Smith said Microsoft has "days when there are either difficult negotiations or even disagreements" with Chinese authorities about search results on Bing.

"But we're not aware of any ongoing negotiation or disagreement, so we're working to understand it better," he added, referring to its sudden inaccessibility.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized international companies for adhering to Beijing's strict censorship rules. But China has more than 770 million internet users and a thriving online shopping market, making it impossible for top tech companies to ignore.

Google came under fire last year when news emerged that it was planning to launch a censored version of its search app in China. The company effectively left China in 2010 when it stopped running its censored Google.cn service.

Chinese tech firm Baidu is the dominant player, accounting for 70% of the market last year, according to research firm StatCounter. Alibaba-backed Shenma is the second biggest with about 16%.

Bing has struggled to make significant inroads in China, capturing just 2% of the search market.

"Bing has a tiny market share in China, but appearance matters to Beijing," said Lokman Tsui, associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and former head of free expression at Google in Asia.

"In a year when the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen is coming up, and at a time when the economy is not doing well, Beijing needs to look like they are in charge and in power," he said, referring to the Chinese government's deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48201

Reported Deaths: 2693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11624683
Lake5146242
Elkhart328546
Allen2762129
St. Joseph194366
Cass16389
Hamilton1552101
Hendricks1403100
Johnson1278118
Porter72837
Tippecanoe7158
Madison65864
Clark65144
Bartholomew58544
Howard57557
LaPorte57326
Kosciusko5464
Vanderburgh5226
Marshall4924
Noble47828
Jackson4703
LaGrange4708
Hancock44835
Boone44243
Delaware44250
Shelby42525
Floyd37944
Morgan32931
Grant29426
Monroe29428
Montgomery29420
Clinton2892
Dubois2736
Henry26315
White26310
Decatur25032
Lawrence24425
Dearborn23623
Vigo2348
Warrick21429
Harrison21322
Unassigned193193
Greene18832
Miami1822
Jennings17611
Putnam1698
DeKalb1624
Scott1607
Daviess14317
Wayne1386
Orange13623
Steuben1292
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Jasper1212
Ripley1167
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette997
Newton9810
Starke933
Whitley925
Huntington812
Gibson802
Randolph794
Jefferson722
Wells721
Fulton701
Jay680
Washington671
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown391
Posey390
Spencer381
Blackford372
Crawford320
Tipton321
Fountain312
Switzerland270
Parke230
Martin220
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 57150

Reported Deaths: 2911
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10271422
Cuyahoga7724373
Hamilton5924197
Marion273238
Lucas2723302
Pickaway219141
Summit2131206
Montgomery198126
Mahoning1825232
Butler157644
Columbiana130360
Stark1107112
Lorain102167
Trumbull93965
Warren83921
Clark7659
Delaware56815
Fairfield55916
Tuscarawas55210
Belmont54622
Medina51632
Lake49718
Licking47712
Miami46331
Portage44058
Ashtabula43344
Wood42151
Geauga40542
Clermont4006
Wayne36251
Richland3375
Allen31540
Mercer2818
Greene2519
Darke24825
Erie24222
Holmes2313
Huron2152
Madison1958
Ottawa14323
Crawford1355
Sandusky13414
Washington13220
Putnam12815
Ross1243
Hardin12312
Morrow1161
Auglaize1064
Coshocton972
Monroe8917
Jefferson872
Union851
Muskingum831
Hancock781
Hocking788
Preble731
Guernsey703
Lawrence700
Williams702
Clinton680
Shelby684
Logan621
Fulton610
Ashland591
Carroll593
Wyandot586
Athens561
Brown561
Knox511
Defiance503
Fayette460
Highland451
Champaign401
Scioto380
Perry341
Van Wert340
Seneca332
Henry290
Jackson230
Paulding230
Pike230
Adams221
Vinton222
Gallia171
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Angola
66° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 71°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 72°
Few Storms Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events