×

Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine Back Online in China

Service of Microsoft’s Bing search engine appears to have been restored in mainland China on Friday after a blackout that prompted users to fear it had been blocked by Chinese censors.

“We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored,” a Microsoft spokesman told Variety, without further elaboration. Chinese users had begun reporting Wednesday that they were unable to access the site.

The brief hiatus in service was due to an accidental technical error, not censorship, Bloomberg News cited two anonymous sources as saying. Earlier, the Financial Times cited two anonymous sources as saying the block had been government-directed.

China operates one of the world’s most restrictive censorship regimes, and Bing is only allowed to operate in the country because it agrees to delete content deemed offensive or threatening to the ruling Communist Party. Google, on the other hand, halted search services in mainland China in 2010 over concerns of censorship and hacking.

The temporary Bing blackout remains a warning sign for foreign tech firms seeking to operate in China, where authorities can decide to ban or block sites and services without explanation.

Popular on Variety

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Microsoft president Brad Smith said that such problems occur regularly for the company and noted that, in 2017, Microsoft’s Skype also temporarily disappeared from Chinese app stores.

“It’s not the first time that we’ve encountered issues like this for being in China. These do arise periodically,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “We do adhere to the global network initiative set of principles when it comes to search services in China. And that does mean that there are days when there are either difficult negotiations or even disagreements, but we’re not aware of any ongoing negotiation or disagreement.”

The Bing block came as Chinese leaders gathered at Davos to promote an image of China as pro-trade and open for business, in contrast to the U.S.’s increasingly protectionist stance under the Trump administration.

China has increased government oversight of the Internet to unprecedented levels in the past year. Authorities deleted about 6 million online posts and 26,000 “illegal websites” just in 2018, the official Xinhua news agency said earlier this month.

More Digital

  • Logan Paul Ninja Spree

    How Logan Paul and Ninja Helped 'Spree' Cast Capture Influencer Culture Gone Wild

    When it came to depicting the gonzo nature of influencer culture, “Spree” stars Joe Keery and Sasheer Zamata and director Eugene Kotlyarenko did a deep dive into the haves and have-nots of the internet. “Spree,” which premiered Friday at Sundance Film Festival, follows a rideshare driver named Kurt Kunkle (Keery) who will stop at nothing [...]

  • Activision-Blizzard-Overwatch-League-Grand-Finals-2018

    YouTube Scores Exclusive Streaming for Activision Blizzard's E-Sports, Including Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues

    YouTube landed a multiyear deal as the exclusive live-streaming partner for Activision Blizzard’s e-sports events worldwide, including Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, Hearthstone Esports. The agreement (which excludes China) promises to give a big boost to YouTube Gaming, the video giant’s dedicated home for all things related to games. It’s also a loss for [...]

  • Grammy Moments Brandi Carlile John Legend

    What's a Grammy Moment Worth? Brandi Carlile, John Legend, Label Execs Weigh In

    In simpler times, an artist could see album sales spike to over 500,000 in the days after a Grammy Awards broadcast appearance. That was Santana’s experience in 2000. Following a performance on the show and eight Grammy wins, “Supernatural” flew off the shelves — a gold certification from one key look. Today, that seems downright [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Sets Up Italian Office in Rome (EXCLUSIVE)

    After opening its doors in Paris last week, Netflix is setting up an office in Rome, Variety can reveal. The streaming giant has confirmed that it will move its Italian team, which is now based in Amsterdam, to new offices in the Italian capital, where they are currently seeking a space. The process will take [...]

  • Jill Dickerson - Snap

    Snap Taps OWN's Jill Dickerson to Lead Unscripted Programming

    Jill Dickerson has left OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network after more than a decade to join Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, as a senior member of the Snap Originals team. A seasoned reality TV exec, Dickerson will help lead the development of Snap’s docu-series and unscripted programming and is based at the company’s Santa [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content