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.

Cases: 749097

Reported Deaths: 13745
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030271775
Lake554211006
Allen41613691
St. Joseph36933564
Hamilton36505416
Elkhart29347459
Tippecanoe22849225
Vanderburgh22540400
Porter19313325
Johnson18386387
Hendricks17583317
Clark13190193
Madison13111344
Vigo12602253
LaPorte12385221
Monroe12152175
Delaware10947197
Howard10250225
Kosciusko9609119
Hancock8541144
Bartholomew8158157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7763180
Grant7227179
Wayne7154201
Boone6911103
Morgan6735141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6205116
Cass5989108
Henry5893108
Dearborn588878
Noble579786
Jackson508374
Shelby500697
Lawrence4727121
Gibson444093
Harrison440473
Clinton439855
DeKalb438585
Montgomery433890
Whitley405642
Huntington402181
Steuben398659
Miami392568
Jasper386254
Knox375690
Putnam371860
Wabash360583
Ripley346470
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White329753
Daviess3028100
Wells294881
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284664
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269855
Clay265448
Randolph244683
Washington244534
Jennings235149
Spencer234131
Starke227558
Fountain218347
Sullivan213943
Owen210858
Fulton201542
Jay200832
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175626
Vermillion173544
Franklin170135
Tipton165746
Parke148916
Pike137934
Blackford136032
Pulaski120047
Newton112636
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton100814
Martin91415
Warren83515
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0421

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1106796

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1284601459
Cuyahoga1155792204
Hamilton812751245
Montgomery524631040
Summit48327999
Lucas43289817
Butler38886603
Stark33275929
Lorain25631502
Warren24554303
Mahoning22327601
Lake21133385
Clermont20095252
Delaware18815135
Licking16643222
Fairfield16552204
Trumbull16520479
Medina15592270
Greene15246246
Clark14216306
Wood13276197
Portage13226214
Allen11904239
Richland11596211
Miami10832223
Wayne9112222
Columbiana9016230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8646122
Marion8633138
Tuscarawas8633247
Erie8049164
Ashtabula7136179
Hancock6995131
Ross6932161
Geauga6831150
Scioto6525104
Belmont6148174
Union583549
Lawrence5722102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5433125
Darke5414129
Seneca5342126
Washington5307109
Athens523360
Auglaize501587
Mercer487385
Shelby476195
Knox4567112
Madison443665
Ashland435097
Putnam4333103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4031110
Brown401861
Logan387177
Preble3847103
Clinton378166
Ottawa372581
Highland359165
Williams347578
Champaign343558
Guernsey324153
Jackson317254
Perry297150
Morrow291240
Fayette285450
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2697101
Coshocton268359
Van Wert247264
Adams242856
Pike242735
Gallia240450
Wyandot234556
Hocking220062
Carroll196648
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135739
Harrison113638
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 61°
Angola
Mostly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 59°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 60°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 62°
Mostly sunny skies dominate on Monday. A weak cold front may cause a handful of showers to pop up after noon.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events