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China's Top News Agency Launches State-Controlled Search Engine

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February 22, 2011

China's Top News Agency Launches State-Controlled Search Engine

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

China's government-run news agency has launched its own Internet search engine, The new search site will be operated by a joint venture company controlled by the Xinhua News Agency and China Mobile, the world's largest mobile phone carrier in terms of subscribers, according to the Associated Press (News - Alert).

The two companies announced their intention to launch a state-controlled search engine in August of last year, around the time that Google pulled out of China due to censorship concerns.

For Panguso to be successful, it will have to compete with the highly-popular China-based Baidu search engine, which currently accounts for more than 75 percent of the nation's Web queries. However, Baidu only controls about 36 percent of the mobile search market. By partnering with China Mobile (News - Alert), Xinhua may soon have a leg up on its competition in the mobile space.

Of the 457 million active Internet users in China, more than 300 million initiated searches using their mobile phones last year, according to the government-controlled China Internet Network Information Center. iResearch reported that the search engine market in China grew by a whopping 67 percent in the fourth quarter of last year to $486.8 million.

As expected, Panguso is being heavily regulated by the Xinhua News Agency and China Mobile, both of which have strong ties to the Chinese government. According to the AP, the search engine offers extremely limited information on a number of controversial and seemingly inane subjects. Queries for Nobel (News - Alert) Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo returned no results, while searches for the Dalai Lama only turned up tourist information for Tibet and criticisms authored by Chinese state media outlets.

Furthermore, the AP reports that Panguso fails to provide users with information on some topics that have no reason to be filtered or censored. A Web search for the People's University in Beijing, one of the nation's top academic institutions, returns no results.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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