China Appears to Block Microsoft’s Bing as Censorship Intensifies

The New York Times
Date: Jan. 23, 2019
By: Paul Mozur and Karen Weise

Harry Shum, Microsoft’s executive vice president for artificial intelligence and research, speaking in San Francisco in 2017. Microsoft has long conducted research in China, including in artificial intelligence.CreditCreditJeff Chiu/Associated Press

SHANGHAI — Under China’s president, Xi Jinping, the last vestiges of the global internet have slowly disappeared from an online world that had already shut out Twitter, Google and Facebook.

Now one of the last survivors, Microsoft’s Bing search engine, appears to have joined them — even though the American company already censors its results in China.

The Chinese government appeared to block the search engine on Wednesday, in what would be a startling renunciation of more than a decade of efforts by Microsoft to engage with Beijing to make its products available. If the block proves to be permanent, it would suggest that Western companies can do little to persuade China to give them access to what has become the world’s largest Internet market by users, especially at a time of increased trade and economic tensions with the United States.

The Redmond, Wash., company has cooperated with local companies to provide its Windows and cloud services to win acceptance by the Chinese government. Its long-established research and development center has turned out valuable products and launched the careers of a generation of artificial-intelligence experts who have started important new companies in China.