Published: Sat, January 26, 2019
Money | By Arnold Ball

Microsoft's Bing search engine restored in China

Microsoft's Bing search engine restored in China

The US firm's Chinese website, cn.bing.com, was accessible again late Thursday, one day after it suddenly went offline, temporarily taking away the most prominent foreign search engine in China. State-owned telecom giant China Unicom reportedly confirmed the government specifically requested the block, though no other specifics were shared. It remains to be seen if this event will affect Google's controversial efforts to develop a censored search engine for the market in any way.

Updated Chinese internet users have today found themselves unable to access Microsoft's search engine, Bing.

"We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored", a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement", the company said in a statement, without elaborating.

But it was not clear whether or not Bing joined the long list of prohibited websites, or if its China service was experiencing technical difficulties.

Ban on Bing, as the publication noted, is the second major blow to the tech giant since November 2017 when its video calling platform Skype was taken down from Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store.

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"We are still working to find out", Smith said during an exclusive interview with Maria Bartiromo at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

China's 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 on social media.

"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. Search engines are always a hot topic.

Smith said Microsoft has "days when there are either hard negotiations or even disagreements" with Chinese authorities about search results on Bing. Any action against Microsoft could set off alarm bells for USA technology giants like Apple Inc. who now rely on the Chinese market, especially amid complaints that Beijing unfairly restricts market access to promote local champions. It had only a 2 percent share of the country's search market, according to StatCounter. 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.

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