Microsoft Bing now blocked in China

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Bing has been the only major foreign search engine accessible from within China's so-called Great Firewall.

On Wednesday, China began blocking the Bing search engine, making it the latest foreign website to be blocked by the Great Firewall.

Attempting to open cn.bing.com results in an error message, though users in China can still access Bing's global site using a virtual private network.

Bing complied with government censorship rules by excluding foreign websites that are blocked by Chinese filters from search results. The service was blocked on the instructions of the government, the Financial Times cited unidentified sources as saying.

"We've confirmed that Bing is now inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps", Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement, the BBC reports.

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 in social media.

Bing was able to operate its Chinese site, cn.bing.com, because it censored its search results.

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"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. Fang accused Baidu, the dominant Chinese search engine in the country, of replacing many recommended web links and products with its own, thus becoming more of a marketing platform than a search engine.

Those next steps are presumably calling up the Chinese authorities and asking what the company did to fall foul of the alleged DNS redirect of doom.

Indeed, as recently as last Thursday, Microsoft was flinging investment and tech China's way, launching an incubator in Nanchang, Jiangxi province in southeast China, focusing on Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.

Facebook attempted to set up an office in China previous year, but appears to have been blocked.

Chinese tech giant Baidu now holds over 70 percent of the search engine market share, followed two other Chinese companies Shenma and Haosu.

"Bing has a tiny market share in China, but appearance matters to Beijing", said Lokman Tsui, associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and former head of free expression at Google in Asia.

However, the situation seems to be a bit more complex than outright censorship this time around.

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