Beijing, Jan 26 (IANS) After being reportedly blocked by the Chinese government, access to Microsoft’s search engine Bing has been restored by the Chinese telecom providers, the media reported.
Bing is the only global search platform that is open for use in China.
“We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored,” said Microsoft in a statement given to theinquirer.net on Friday.
Late on Wednesday, the Microsoft search engine was blocked, reportedly at the behest of the Chinese government for reasons unknown.
According to a report in Financial Times on Wednesday, mainland Chinese users wrote on social media that attempts to access Bing’s China site — cn.bing.com — failed.
“Two sources familiar with the government order confirmed that Bing had been blocked. One of the sources said that China Unicom, one of China’s major state-owned telecom companies, had confirmed the government had ordered a block on Bing,” said the report.
In a statement given to The New York Times, Microsoft had said: “We’ve confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps.”
The outage led to speculation that China was in the middle of a significant crackdown of potentially dissident sites in a year of significant anniversaries.
While neither Microsoft nor Chinese authorities have explained the reason behind the extended outage, GreatFire, a group that tracks what sites are blocked in China, said it is likely not to have been a government dictum after all, the theinquirer.net said.
Bing is one of the few Western search engines available behind the Great Firewall, thanks to an agreement to host its servers in China, and therefore be subject to the government’s censorship policies which are designed to keep dissent to a minimum.
Google Search is already inaccessible in China while Facebook-owned WhatsApp was blocked in 2017.
Google had earlier launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the plug in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites.
Google has also shelved its plan to re-enter China through a censored search application code-named “Project Dragonfly”, after massive protests.
In 2018, Chinese authorities also launched a renewed attack on VPN providers, whose services can be used to circumvent censored sites and services.