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Global search engines: China Web alliance takes on Google

Sina.com, one of the mainland's most popular Web sites, has joined about 200 Internet portals in a government-backed search engine alliance that challenges global giants such as Google.
The search engine--developed by the China Internet Information Centre and Chinese firm Sinobet in September last year--links to a database of more than 30,000 mainland portals, including most of China's key official news Web sites.
Analysts said demand for reliable search engines had soared in the mainland, especially as the authorities frequently blocked access to popular foreign sites such as Google and AltaVista. "Last year, when the Google's mainland access stopped working, that caused a major outcry from many Chinese users," said Gartner's Asia-Pacific research director, Dion Wiggins.
"They could do nothing about it. Google is a foreign company in a foreign country. This search engine is in China, managed by Chinese. There is more local control."
The mainland search engine, chinasearch.com.cn, is free for Internet surfers, but firms need to pay to be linked to the database. "There isn't much difference if you are an ordinary user," Sina Vice President Zhou Shuhua said. "It will only provide more choice, not less. We will provide additional links related to your search at the site of the browser."
With the new partnership, Sina hopes that more than 60 percent of users will use its search engine, compared with 10 percent now. The alliance hopes to achieve a 20 percent market share in the mainland this year. It denied being part of a government move to replace Google. A representative said the timing of Google's access problems and the launch of the search alliance "was a coincidence."

Source: ZD Net.com
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