CHINESE TELECOMS providers have restored access to Bing within the country after a mysterious outage.
Late on Wednesday, the Microsoft search engine was blocked, reportedly at the behest of the Chinese government for reasons unknown.
It led to speculation that China was in the middle of a significant crackdown of potentially dissident sites in a year of significant anniversaries.
A Microsoft statement said:
"We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored."
Neither Microsoft, nor Chinese authorities have explained the extended outage, but GreatFire, the group dedicated to analysing the behaviour of the internet behind the country's draconian firewall said that it's likely not to have been a government dictem after all.
A Bing ban would have had far reaching consequences, both for citizens and visitors to the country.
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 designed to keep dissent to a minimum.
Google pulled out of China in 2009, and a rumoured return sparked heavy protests from staff, leading to the eventual decision to abandon the project which was, according to sources, already staffing in three figures.
Other services that are banned include Facebook and Twitter, along with a number of messenger services, like WhatsApp which is only accessible periodically.
Last year, Chinese authorities also launched a renewed attack on VPN providers, whose services can be used to circumvent censored sites and services.
Although Bing isn't exactly the lead player in the search market there (that is very much a title held by local company, Baidu), Microsoft has many other irons in the Chinese Fire(wall), including a new research centre due to open this year.
Any decline in relations between Bing and the government could lead Microsoft to question its wider multi-million dollar investment in the country. μ
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