Is it possible to use Bing in China in 2020? For the past few years, Microsoft Bing has been one of the only “western” search engines easily accessed from within China, thanks to the blocking of others like Google, Yahoo and more.
Then, in January 2019, everything changed. Here’s what you need to know.
As you probably already know, China actively censors the internet for its citizens, a move they say protects the country from the evils of democracy. Local Chinese and foreigners alike are all blocked from full access to the internet from within China’s borders.
It all started over a decade ago when China blocked access to major social media sites like Facebook and many of the search engines like Google and Yahoo. There were many more websites that were blocked in China, but for the longest time Microsoft stayed in China’s good graces. Bing was the one search engine that censored its results and, as a result, wasn’t censored.
Unfortunately, like all good things, it was bound to come to an end.
Note: This article contains affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will be compensated if you use some of these services I recommend. The good news is that in many cases, such as this link to ExpressVPN, I’ve negotiated special deals to get you 3 months of free service.
Is Microsoft Bing Blocked in China?
Sometime in mid-January, 2019, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed that Bing was no longer accessible in China. Since China never publicly announces these kinds of changes, it’s up to the companies themselves to confirm.
So the short answer is yes, Microsoft Bing is blocked in China.
It’s not immediately clear why Bing was blocked. Unlike Google in China, which had previously refused to censor search results and has recently come under fire for planning to launch a censored version of its search app in China, Microsoft has eagerly bent to the censorship requests of the Chinese government.
It seems that even Microsoft was taken by surprise by the new censorship. They’ve never had a huge portion of the search market share in China (only 2%,) but China tends to distrust any foreign entity.
Thankfully, there are still a few creative ways to use Bing, Google and all the other blocked websites and apps in China.
Accessing Bing in China Using a VPN
Ask any expat who has lived in China and they’ll tell you all about Virtual Private Networks, or “VPNs” for short. A VPN is an encryption technology that allows you to bypass China’s censorship by connecting to a VPN server outside of China.
At first, you may worry that using a VPN is illegal, but the truth is that China doesn’t care how foreigners access the internet. They only care about how Chinese citizens view the internet.
So how does a VPN work to allow you to access Bing in China? Basically, you can think of it like an encrypted tunnel that connects your computer with another computer in another country.
Once connected to a server outside of China, you get to see the internet as if you were in the location of the server, not behind China’s “Great Firewall” of censorship.
Most expats in China use the popular ExpresVPN since it has been so reliable in China. The primary use of a VPN is for securing your connection to the internet, particularly in public places like airports, coffee shops, etc. However, they’ve become such a popular tool in China that the vast majority of long-term expats use a VPN on a daily basis – including me.
Connecting to a VPN in China
Let’s say you want to use Bing in China (and all the other blocked websites). You understand that you need to use a VPN, but you’re not quite sure what the next step is.
The first thing to keep in mind is that China blocks access to VPN websites from within China (makes sense, really). For this reason, it’s best to make sure you get set up with a VPN prior to your arrival in China. Setting up a VPN for China is simple:
- Purchase and download a VPN like ExpressVPN on your computer (5 min)
- Download the VPN app to your phone or tablet devices. (5 min)
- Sign into all the apps and software using the code they give you. (5 min)
- Click “Connect” and you’re finished!
One more thing: I highly recommend you download at least two VPN services for your phone as a backup in case one doesn’t work. China sometimes blocks certain IP addresses, which can cause major connection issues no matter which VPN you use. I recommend the following VPNs:
- ExpressVPN: One of the most popular VPNs on the market that has one of the best phone apps I’ve seen. I use this every day. Best of all, they have a 30-day money-back guarantee in case it doesn’t work well for you. BONUS: when you use this link for ExpressVPN, they’ll give you 3 months free on any annual plan.
- NordVPN: Again, another VPN I’ve used for years now that has an easy-to-use mobile app and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
*Disclosure: While I have affiliate relationships with all of these VPN services, I don’t recommend any service that I don’t personally use. I have active subscriptions to all three of these VPN services.
Start Using Bing in China Today
Once you’ve connected to the VPN, you can open up Bing.com again as well as Facebook, Instagram, CNN and every other blocked website. Remember, though: a VPN is not an internet connect. You must first get either get connected to a network or find a way to get WiFi in China.
Within the ExpressVPN apps, find a country server that is close to your location and click the big power button.
The above screen shots show what you’ll see using ExpressVPN both on a mobile device (left) and on a desktop computer (right).
Conclusion: Microsoft Bing in China
Is Bing blocked in China? Yes, it is. But you don’t have to suffer just because the Chinese government is insecure about free information. And you shouldn’t get bitter either – they block tons of great social and streaming content.
Instead, beat them at their own game by downloading a VPN and continuing to use whatever the heck websites you want to.