Microsoft’s Bing search engine is the latest American technology service to become inaccessible in China, according to a report from the Financial Times. Starting at some point today, internet users in mainland China began complaining that cn.bing.com was no longer available from within the country; it is still accessible to those outside China at the moment.
According to sources speaking anonymously with the FT, the state-owned telecom China Unicom has confirmed the order came from the government. We don’t yet know what may have triggered the ban.
Microsoft provided the following statement: “We’ve confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps.”
It’s not particularly unusual to see a Western website blocked from China’s increasingly restrictive internet — Twitch found itself banned back in September, and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have been permanently banned for years. But a search engine finding itself banned is notable for two reasons.
Microsoft’s Bing was one of the few services developed by a US company to remain available in the country, despite competing with local government-connected services. Of course, Bing’s survival was due to Microsoft’s willingness to comply with the Chinese government’s censorship policies, but now even that has proved not enough for China.
Under President Xi Jinping, who has solidified his power by abolishing term limits last year, China has grown more stringent with its control over the internet.