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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.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.