Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on Thursday questioned why Microsoft blocked images and video of "Tank Man," the Chinese protester who stood in the way of advancing tanks during China’s infamous crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in June 1989.
"I write with concern regarding recent actions by the Microsoft Corporation that resulted in temporary internet censorship in the United States of content related to the Tiananmen Square Massacre," he wrote in a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, which was obtained by CNN.
"On June 4, 2021, online searches in the United States and other countries, including France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Singapore, for the term 'Tank Man,' a symbol of the pro-democracy movement standing up to the state power of communist China, returned no image results.
"While the People's Republic of China infamously censors internet search terms related to the Tiananmen Square Massacre (including 'Tank Man'), the possibility that the Chinese Communist Party's censorship would be extended to the United States by an American company is unacceptable.
"Microsoft has blamed the missing search result on Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo Search and other search engines that rely on Microsoft on 'accidental human error.' However, the timing of the missing result — the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre — leads to further questions, especially given Microsoft's operations in China."
Romney also asked "What (if any) terms did the CCP (Chinese Community Party) specifically request that Microsoft censor in China lead up or on June 4?"
And he added: "What procedures does Microsoft plan to incorporate to prevent the future censorship of Tiananmen Square search terms?"
CNN noted hundreds of people were killed on June 4, 1989, in Tiananmen Square. Images of the "Tank Man" defying troops were seen around the world.
"Tank Man" refers to the image of a standoff between an unidentified civilian and a line of tanks leaving Beijing’s Tiananmen Square after the brutal crackdown.
Microsoft is one of a few international search engines operating in China.
It said that authorities in China mandate search engines, websites, and social media platforms censor results deemed politically sensitive or critical of the CCP.
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