Bing was sporadically available for some users on Thursday but still offline for others. The block comes despite Microsoft’s efforts to build a local operation on Beijing’s terms.
Unlike Google, which pulled its search engine out years ago in part to avoid government censorship, Microsoft has toed the line and stops content deemed illegal from showing up in results. Its research division — Microsoft Research Asia — is also an established presence in Beijing with a new AI lab opening in Shanghai. It owns LinkedIn, which also operates in the country by agreeing to censor content.
Beijing is intensifying its campaign to scrub the domestic internet, which it perceives as a growing threat to social stability as the online ecosystem booms.
Communist leaders face a year rich with sensitive dates, including the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding on October 1 and the 30th anniversary of the party’s crackdown on democracy activists in Tiananmen Square on June 4. Such occasions have sometimes helped coalesce criticism of the regime, and China often rounds up dissidents in advance.