China blocks Microsoft's Bing search engine for one day

Microsoft's Bing is blocked in China as tensions between Beijing and Washington escalate

For years, Microsoft's Bing search engine has been available in China, despite the country's strict online censorship.

The search engine world in China raised particular challenges for US-based tech giants, with Google itself leaving the country back in 2010.

The brief hiatus in service was due to an accidental technical error, not censorship, Bloomberg News cited two anonymous sources as saying, hours after the Financial Times cited two anonymous sources as saying the block had been government-directed.

"We've confirmed that Bing is now inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps", a Microsoft spokesperson later told PCMag without elaborating. In November the Skype internet phone call and messaging service disappeared from app stores.

President Xi Jinping has accelerated control of the internet in China since 2016, as the ruling communist party has sought to crack down on dissent in social media.

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.

"Periodically there are issues that arise and sometimes those issues do lead to our service or some other services being blocked and you know it is an area where we understand we don't have the same legal freedom that we do in other countries but at the same time we stick to our guns", he said.

The US technology giant confirmed on Friday that access was again possible but did not provide reasons for the disruption or other details. Microsoft, however, did comply with the Chinese government's policies to keep Bing from being blocked, though something must have changed for the latest ban.

Google came under fire previous year when news emerged that it was planning to launch a censored version of its search app in China. "This is just the Chinese authorities being the Chinese authorities".

China has extended its massive firewall by blocking Microsoft's Corp's Bing search engine as Beijing tightens restrictions over what content its citizens can view online. The Chinese government seems to be pushing a "China First" maxim in the tech sector, to counter the "America First" attitude of The White House.

Smith said it was understood that Bing did not have the same legal freedoms in China that it enjoyed in other countries.

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