China blocks Microsoft’s Bing search engine

Microsoft Bing, the last major foreign search engine available in China, has been blocked following an order from the government, reports Financial Times.

The paper published a report Thursday noting Chinese social media users were complaining attempts to access resulted in a DNS error. Microsoft is currently investigating the situation.

Two separate inside sources confirmed to Microsoft that Bing had been blocked, the report states. One said China Unicom, a state-owned telecom business, verified the government had ordered access to the website to be completely restricted.

Yahoo search was blocked in China last year. Access to Google search was official cut off in 2010 after Google refused to comply with government requests to censor its search results, and began redirecting all search queries from within China to its Hong Kong website, which was completely uncensored.

The Chinese government’s extreme online censorship and extensive monitoring activities have come to be derisively known as “The Great Firewall.” Some of the most popular media platforms and news websites outside of the country, like Facebook, YouTube and The New York Times, are completely inaccessible in China.

Google is currently in the midst of developing a search engine that complies with China’s censorship laws, although the move has faced strong opposition from employees and human rights activists alike.

Facebook has been trying to establish a presence in China for years courtesy of unwavering CEO Mark Zuckerberg despite persistent criticism of his attempts.

Chinese tech giant Baidu currently holds over 70 percent of the search engine market share, followed two other Chinese companies Shenma and Haosu. The Financial Times reports Microsoft Bing held less than two percent.

Other Microsoft services appear to still be available in the country, although foreign email services and media platforms regularly go through periods of limited restriction.