No one can really say for sure how far the trade spat between US and China can go.

On Thursday, Microsoft's Bing search engine became inaccessible, with social media users fearing it could be the latest foreign website to be blocked by censors.

AFP reports that attempts to open cn.bing.com has resulted in an error message for users since Wednesday, taking away the most prominent foreign search engine available in China.

"We've confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next steps," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a brief statement, hours after saying the company was investigating the matter.

China's Communist authorities operate an online censorship apparatus known as the "Great Firewall", which blocks many websites including Facebook, Twitter and several foreign media outlets.

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But it was not clear whether or not Bing had joined the list of prohibited websites, or if its China service was experiencing technical difficulties. The search engine had been censoring searches in China.

The wording of the US company's statement "means Microsoft received no government order, but clearly China has the power to block a URL and that may be what happened," said independent US tech analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.

"China has been aggressive in terms of controlling the media, 'censorship' is kind of their middle name. If there were searches going on providing results the Chinese government didn't like, it wouldn't surprise me if they blocked the site," Enderle said.

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