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Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Tuesday demanded that Microsoft explain why the company blocked images and videos of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests on anniversary of the massacre, CNN reported.

The big picture: A Microsoft spokesperson previously said the removal of the images was a mistake, and blamed it on "accidental human error," per CNN.

What happened: Pictures and videos of "Tank Man," the unidentified protester who who faced tanks during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, were taken down from Bing around the world on Friday, the anniversary of the events.

  • The images reappeared on Saturday.
  • Bing operates in China, meaning Microsoft can be forced by the Chinese government to censor specific search results for users in the country, per CNN.
  • China tends to increase censorship for the Tiananmen Square Massacre weeks ahead of its anniversary.

Our thought bubble via Axios' Ina Fried: Companies that wish to do business in China have to go to great lengths to remove certain content within China, though its influence often (but not always) stops at the border.

What he's saying: "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," Romney said.

  • Romney acknowledged Microsoft's explanation for the removal, but added that "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."
  • The senator listed a series of questions asking Microsoft to specify how China requested the pictures to be taken down, and whether the "censorship" was intentional.

Go deeper

Sep 12, 2021 - World

China, Pakistan offer aid to Taliban as West hesitates

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of Afghanistan's Taliban, in July 2021. Photo: Li Ran/Xinhua via Getty Images

As Western nations debate how best to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan without enriching the Taliban, China and Pakistan have already sent planeloads of supplies to the country and are willing to send more, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Afghanistan is mired in a humanitarian and economic crisis, and China's and Pakistan's willingness to help could draw Afghanistan closer into those countries' orbits.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker