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China Blocks Bing Despite Microsoft's Censorship Compliance

(Image credit: Casimiro PT/Shutterstock)

Microsoft’s Bing search engine has been unexpectedly blocked in China without any official statement from the government.

Microsoft has confirmed that its search engine is currently inaccessible in China after reports by several media entities saying Bing could no longer be accessed at least in certain parts of the country. Greatfire.org, a group that tracks which websites are blocked in China, pointed out that when China blocks a services, it takes some time for the blockade to spread across the country.

Chinese officials have refused to comment on the issue, but this is not particularly out of the ordinary for the Chinese government, which rarely discusses how or why it censors particular information sources.

Playing by China’s Rules Failed

When Google quit China, Microsoft saw that as an opportunity to take its place. Ever since, the company has done everything the government has asked of it and more, including censoring all content the Chinese government didn’t want its citizens to see. The company has even misdirected Chinese users to government’s own accounts about certain events or people. For instance, in China, Bing would redirect users to the government’s own content about Dalai Lama, while outside of the country it would link to Dalai Lama’s Wikipedia page.

In order to appease the Chinese government Microsoft also allowed real-time interception of Skype messages within the country. The company agreed to sell a "government-approved" version of Windows that would better comply with the country's laws, including the cybersecurity law requiring back doors in tech products. To build the government-approved version of Windows 10, Microsoft had to partner with a state-run company that makes electronics for the Chinese military. Chinese Electronics Technology Corporation is also a major supplier of surveillance technology in Xinjiang.

Anti-Baidu Message

The news about Bing being blocked also comes days after a message about Baidu being “dead” as a search engine became viral in China. The message came from Fang Kecheng, a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania. 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.

“Bing compromised in order to have a Chinese version to get into the country. It would be pathetic if even this can’t exist. We have one less alternative," Fang said.

Google recently suffered a backlash and protests from its employees over the company’s covert attempt to get back into China. When caught, the company said that it would be better for the Chinese users if it offered a censored search engine rather than not being available there at all. However, it seems that this strategy may no longer work anyway under permanent president Xi Jinping.

  • Co BIY
    Part of the new trade war or part of business as usual with China?

    My guess is that they got the technology transfer they were after and saw no more use for Microsoft.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    21709240 said:
    Part of the new trade war or part of business as usual with China?

    My guess is that they got the technology transfer they were after and saw no more use for Microsoft.
    Business as usual.

    What technology transfer? I've seen plenty of transfers and thefts regarding China over the years, but what did they get in this case?
    Reply
  • chickenballs
    They have pretty much created their own internet while blocking most of the foreign websites.
    I know websites like DeviantArt, Flickr, Google, Facebook, Youtube, The New York Times, The Washington Post are all blocked. I wonder if tomshardware.co.uk is accessible in the PRC.
    Bill Clinton argued about 20yrs ago when he lobbied to get the PRC into the WTO that increased trade would lead to more freedom for the people. I hope he's satisfied now seeing how much freedom of speech and human rights have spread through the country... :sarcastic: what a moron

    Reply
  • bit_user
    21711022 said:
    Bill Clinton argued about 20yrs ago when he lobbied to get the PRC into the WTO that increased trade would lead to more freedom for the people.
    A lot of people thought that. Not fair to pin it only on him.

    What they missed is that a robust democracy is needed to keep capitalism in check. Capitalism doesn't need or even want democracy.

    BTW, I wouldn't say the US has a robust democracy, but it's sure better than China.
    Reply
  • chickenballs
    well hes just one of 8 presidents since the early 1970s who hoped/believed that with trade and economic development the regime would be forced to give more freedom to its people. Even after all the shootings and tanks firing on unarmed students and workers in 1989 the us president sent envoys to make sure that they could keep doing business with the regime...
    so much for all the talk about democracy and human rights
    Reply
  • mlee 2500
    21710442 said:
    21709240 said:
    Part of the new trade war or part of business as usual with China?

    My guess is that they got the technology transfer they were after and saw no more use for Microsoft.
    Business as usual.

    What technology transfer? I've seen plenty of transfers and thefts regarding China over the years, but what did they get in this case?

    A couple scenarios where it COULD be the case. Stipulating of course the obvious, that none of us can know for sure and are just speculating, we DO know for certain that China requires companies doing business on the mainland, and which host "end-user data" (which could be defined as a simple search engine query) to be hosted in-country. There are varying degrees of compliance of course, but almost none of the big boys get away with thumbing their nose that this requirement entirely.

    Search engine algorithms and code is valuable IP, and if Microsoft didn't adequately separate these jewels from the in-country component (for performance or other reasons), then Microsoft would hardly be the first to have that IP stolen, as the "in-country" laws primary exist as a state-sponsored mechanism to accommodate theft.

    Basically, if you want the market, you almost have to give up ownership of your IP. And they get away with it all the time. Sometimes you can get around it via Taiwan, but only in very limited circumstances.
    Reply
  • mlee 2500
    21711063 said:
    21711022 said:
    Bill Clinton argued about 20yrs ago when he lobbied to get the PRC into the WTO that increased trade would lead to more freedom for the people.
    A lot of people thought that. Not fair to pin it only on him.

    What they missed is that a robust democracy is needed to keep capitalism in check. Capitalism doesn't need or even want democracy.

    BTW, I wouldn't say the US has a robust democracy, but it's sure better than China.

    Yeah I would argue that our continued granting of "most favored nation" trade status is what precipitated the problems we have today, and could have been avoided if we had diversified that privilege better across other APAC nations.

    Too late now. The proverbial genie is out of the bottle, but it's not too late to start developing and promoting competing economies in the area (though that would likely require a government capable of long-view planning beyond the next 4 year election cycle...maybe something like Chinese-style "Communism"!).
    Reply
  • csar87523
    China is Nothing More than a Punk-Ass-Bully, if it's not their way they wine. If you are able to do business like MS that sold MS-Student @ $4.00 ea! Than they will Reverse-Engineer anything & Everything just ask Russia with Mig-29!! The USA Should COMPLETELY PULL-OUT of China "It's Not Worth The Head-Aches. Just ASK Australia!!
    Reply
  • csar87523
    Do you Really want to KNOW China than watch china-uncensored dot com. They will open your eyes but I have to warn YOU! Its will Piss-You-OFF !!
    Reply
  • GotMilked
    China is first and foremost recipient of fake news and slander propagated under the banner of "freedom and democracy", so this comes of no surprise.
    Reply