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China Reportedly Blocks Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine

China Reportedly Blocks Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine
A latest reports published in the Financial Times, the latest United States based technology service that has come under fire in China is Microsoft’s Bing search engine which reportedly has been banned in the country and consequently inaccessible to users inside China.
There were complains since January 23 by internet users in mainland China that they were unable to gain any access from inside China even while it could still be easily accessed from places outside of China at that very precise moment. The Financial Times reported quoting sources that the state-owned telecom China Unicom had imposed the ban on orders from the Chinese government. The reason for the ban was not apparently immediately clear.
There have been many previous instances where Western websites have been blocked from China’s increasingly restrictive internet. In September last year, China banned Twitch  and it has been years that users inside mainland China are unable to access Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter because of restrictions.
However, the banning of a search engine is significant for two reasons. the Bing search engine developed by Microsoft was amongst the very few developed by US companies and still available inside China even in the face of severe competition from local government-connected services. And even though one of the reasons that Bing was allowed to be accessible inside China was that Microsoft had agreed to comply with the Chinese government’s censorship policies, currently it seems that those were not enough to continue its operations in China. The restrictions and control over the internet have become more stringent after Chinese President Xi Jinping came back to power for his second term and secured lifelong Presidentship from the Communist party of China.
Secondly, the banning of Bing assumes importance because Google is planning a special search engine for China through a project that is known as Dragonfly within the company. That decision has however also resulted in severe criticism of the company - both from within it, as well as outside. Google was banned in China in 2010 after the US tech giant decided to exit the Chinese market as a mark of protest to the policies of the Chinese government to allegedly curb free speech and disallowing access to information.
And after the exit of Google, the nearly empty Chinese market had helped the state-controlled Baidu to turn itself into the largest search engine in the market and currently it has control over more than 70 per cent of the Chinese internet search market. in contrast, just about 2 per cent of the market was acquired by Bing. However, now Google has set its eyes get back into the Chinese market and mark high growth in terms of market share of search engines. Last month however, the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai told the US congress that the company was still exploring the possibility of re-entering the Chinese market.
“We’re aware of reports that Bing may be inaccessible to some customers in China and are investigating,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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