Microsoft said its Bing search page was back online in China after being inaccessible for part of this week. It appeared to have been blocked by government censors.
Users in parts of China were unable to access Bing on Wednesday and Thursday, and it remained unclear what led to the shutdown.
While Bing is not widely used in China, it has been one of the few remaining portals to the broader internet as the government isolates China’s internet from the rest of the world. Bing has survived in part because Microsoft has worked to follow the government’s censorship practices around political topics.
It has also cooperated with the government in developing other parts of its business, such as working with a state-run firm that supplies the military to produce a government-approved version of its Windows 10 software.
“There are times when there are disagreements, there are times when there are difficult negotiations with the Chinese government, and we’re still waiting to find out what this situation is about,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, said in an interview with Fox Business Network at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Smith acknowledged that Microsoft had fewer legal rights in China than in other countries.
“There are certain principles that we think it’s important to stand up for,” he said, “and we’ll go at times into the negotiating room and the negotiations are sometimes pretty darn direct.”
The company is still investigating the shutdown, he said.