Technology 2 min read

Bing is Back Online in China -- For Now

Chinese Bing users found their site disabled on Thursday, but, after just 24 hours, the site is back online. Why did the state disable Bing for that short time?

BIng was shut down in China for 24 hours, the reason why remains a mystery. | Image By Casimiro PT | Shutterstock

BIng was shut down in China for 24 hours, the reason why remains a mystery. | Image By Casimiro PT | Shutterstock

Microsoft’s search engine Bing was reportedly blocked in China for 24-hours.

Although no one knows the exact time, at some point on January 23, users discovered that cn.bing.com was no longer available in China. Meanwhile, the search engine was still accessible to those outside the country.

According to an anonymous source that spoke to the Financial Times, the Chinese government ordered telecom operators to block Bing.

A Microsoft spokesperson told the Financial Times on Thursday “Weʼve confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next step,”

There’s just one question to ask — why?

Chinese Government Ban Microsoft’s Bing

Although the government never gives a public explanation for blocks, there’s a simple explanation; censorship. FT’s anonymous source claimed that the Chinese government banned Bing to prevent “illegal content.”

Since China already prevents access to various websites, this form of restriction is not far-fetched.

Facebook’s WhatsApp was blocked in 2017. Before then, Google pulled out of the country in protest to the government’s policies on free speech and access to information.

Thanks to a system of censorship control known as the “great firewall”, the country controls citizens access to information. This includes access to Social Networking Sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Besides, these controls have only tightened over the years to shut down online discourse.

So, we were not surprised that cn.bing.com joined the long list of banned websites in China — or so it appeared.

Twenty-four hours after the supposed ban, residents of Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities confirmed that the site is back up.

A Weibo (China’s Twitter-like social media) user wrote, “Bing seems to have resumed access!

The Mystery Continues

Citing two anonymous sources, Bloomberg reported that the search engine was inaccessible due to “an accidental technical error”. Since Bing already complies with local censorship rules, the blackout was not a deliberate attempt at censorship.

Unlike other Google, Microsoft and China are playing nice (for now). The tech company’s software and its operating system are relatively popular in China, and the Chinese government uses a special edition of Windows.

Although Bing holds a 2 percent market share in China behind Baidu’s 70 percent, it enjoys a niche market. As the only major English search engine remaining in China, users depend on Bing for all English-language searches for now.

Read More: Former Google Chief Predicts U.S-China Internet Schism by 2028

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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