China has blocked the search engine from Microsoft

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This looks to have changed, however, according to a source cited by the Financial Times on Wednesday (23 January).

Microsoft's Bing search engine has been blocked in China and the firm is investigating the root cause.

The paper published a report Thursday noting Chinese social media users were complaining attempts to access cn.bing.com resulted in a DNS error. Rumours suggest that the move to block access to the site by the state-owned telecommunications company, China Unicom, was a result of a direct order from the Chinese government although these claims have yet to be substantiated. Not helping the matter is the Trump administration's trade war against China.

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 created to keep dissent to a minimum.

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Top internet platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been blocked in China for years, blacked out by a vast government censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall.

During a speech at the World Economic Forum that was held in Davos, Switzerland, Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, said that self-regulation when it comes to facial recognition may not be sufficient as the technology is becoming more popular.

China has extended its massive firewall by blocking Microsoft's Corp's Bing search engine as Beijing tightens restrictions over what content its citizens can view online.

"There are times when there are disagreements, there are times when there are hard negotiations with the Chinese government, and we're still waiting to find out what this situation is about", he said.

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Other than the canned statement, Microsoft has also kept silent. Google had pulled out in 2010 in protest of the government's policies on free speech and access to information.

While Google Search has been absent from China for some time, Bing has been available.

Both the United States and China have already levied tit-fot-tat tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods, and Trump made good on his pledge to escalate the trade war, directing Lighthizer to find another $200 billion worth of products to hit.

Many US tech companies are keen to tap into the Chinese market, but have a hard relationship with the authorities in Beijing.

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