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On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, Microsoft-owned Bing inexplicably appeared to block the iconic “Tank Man” photograph from search results while LinkedIn, also owned by the software giant, sent critics of China’s communist regime a notice informing them that their accounts would be blocked in the repressive nation, where Internet content is strictly controlled.
No one knows the identity of the brave activist who has been dubbed “Tank Man,” and yet a photograph of the moment he stood before a row of tanks on Tiananmen Square in 1989 is undoubtedly what will pop into any Westerner’s mind when they think of the infamous event where Chinese soldiers slaughtered thousands of student activists by running them over with tanks, mowing them down with machine guns, and even slaying wounded survivors with bayonets.
However, if you had wanted to take another look at this unknown man’s actions on the anniversary of that day (which may have been his last on earth), search engine Bing would have displayed only a blank page.
Newsbusters reported that the search engine ultimately blamed an “accidental human error” for its inability to display the image, although if it was indeed a simple mistake, it certainly was very odd timing.
Meanwhile, LinkedIn, which is also owned by Microsoft, informed users who are known for their vehement criticism of the Chinese regime that their content would not be displayed in China ahead of June 4.
The Epoch Times, a newspaper founded by Chinese dissident expatriates, reported that many members of their staff received the notice.
The message stated: “We want to make you aware that due to legal requirements impacting the accessibility within China of some publishing organizations, your profile and your activity, such as items you share with your network, are not visible to those accessing LinkedIn from within China at this time.”
LinkedIn told the Epoch Times in a statement that they have an “obligation to respect the laws that apply to us, including Chinese government regulations for our localized version of LinkedIn in China.”
That Microsoft’s leaders would kowtow to the CCP on this issue is not exactly a surprise as the tech giant has done business in China for nearly three decades. It first began investing in the communist nation not long after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and today, it’s Chinese business interests account for an estimated 10 percent of the company’s total $125 billion in annual revenues, although Microsoft doesn’t publish China sales in its financial filings.
Niang Xiang, an expert on Chinese technology and venture capital and founder of China Money Network, a Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence monitoring firm, explained during an interview with Fox Business last fall that Microsoft has “extremely strong ties to China, as tight as it gets in terms of an American tech company’s presence and influence in China. It’s not the most beholden to China in terms of revenue, but Microsoft has been an inspirational role model of sorts for China’s tech scene since Day One.”
In the last three decades, China has managed to catch up with the developed West economically and technologically, yet the control its communist leaders have over global narratives has been anything but progressive.
Chillingly, the influence that the Chinese regime has on the global market and individual countries, corporations, and institutions has resulted in self-censorship by Western media and, as we see in the case of Microsoft, compliance with free speech restrictions formed by a government that continues to cover-up and deny the horrific slaughter that took place at the direction of communist leaders in the heart of China’s capital city.
Just consider that even as Microsoft submissively complied with Chinese censorship laws, the CCP’s new National Security Law in Hong Kong continues to squeeze out the last semblances of free speech and other civil liberties on the previously democratic island, the long-held annual vigils commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre were banned, and an organizer of one of the events was arrested by plainclothes officers and whisked away in a black car.
When American corporations bow to Beijing, they bow to a government that is constantly beating down its own citizens to do the same — oftentimes quite literally.
The world needs more freedom fighters like “Tank Man.” The world needs to stand up to the CCP. Otherwise, its leaders may soon have the entire global community on its knees.