After a day-long outage, Microsoft’s Bing search engine is being restored in China, the company says.

On Thursday, users in China reported being unable to access Bing, making it the latest foreign technology service shut behind the country’s Great Firewall.

“We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement,” the company said in a statement, without elaborating.

It is the US technology giant’s second setback in China since November 2017 when its Skype internet phone call and messaging service was pulled from Apple and Android app stores.

A search performed on Bing’s China website – – from within mainland China directed the user to a page that says the server cannot be reached.

The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that China Unicom, a major state-owned telecommunication company, had confirmed the government order to block the search engine.

Bloomberg, citing two sources familiar with the matter, reported on Thursday that the block was due to a technical error rather than an attempt at censorship.

A spokesperson for China’s ministry of foreign affairs declined to comment on the case and asked journalists to ask “other relevant, competent authorities.” The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), a government watchdog, did not respond to faxed questions about Bing’s blocked website.

Users and observers were surprised by the outage, given that Microsoft censors its search results to meet Chinese regulations.

Bing was one of the few remaining foreign search engine accessible from within China’s so-called Great Firewall. Microsoft censored search results on sensitive topics, in accordance with government policy.

Microsoft also has a partnership with Chinese data centre provider 21Vianet to offer its products Azure and Office 365 to clients in the country.

“It is in the interests of the Chinese authorities to keep Bing online because Microsoft takes great care to scrub the platform of any information that the authorities deem to be negative,” said Charlie Smith, co-founder of, an anti-censorship group.

Alphabet’s Google search platform has been blocked in China since 2010. Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, said in December it had “no plans” to relaunch a search engine in China though it is continuing to study the idea amid increased scrutiny of big tech firms.

President Xi Jinping has accelerated control of the internet in China since 2016, as the ruling communist party has sought to crack down on dissent in social media.

In a statement on Wednesday, CAC said it had deleted more than 7m pieces of online information and 9,382 mobile apps. It also criticised technology company Tencent’s news app for spreading “vulgar information.”

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