Panguso – China’s New Highly Censored Search Engine

China has rolled out a new search engine to compete with the country leader, Baidu.Yesterday, state-run Xinhua News Agency jointly with China Mobile launched Panguso – a search engine which reportedly will provide only state-certified SERPs. This means that although it is touted by Xinhua as an “accurate search service for news, websites, images, videos and audio data”, the search engine will be strictly censored by the Chinese government.

China’s extensive system of internet censorship has clearly grown into a tool for political control. If you conduct a search on Panguso for the Dalai Lama, you get mostly criticism of the exiled spiritual leader, who China considers to be a dangerous separatist. Ironically enough, Panguso can be translated as as the “God of search”. Critics have already labelled China’s strict online filtering system as the “Great Firewall of China.” Last year Google moved its Chinese business to Hong Kong to avoid censorship in Beijing, which blocked even sites like Youtube and Facebook. Neither Youtube nor Facebook turn up in a search on Panguso now.

China has almost half a billion of Internet users, and is thus a huge marketplace for online companies. Yet, Panguso will have to face up to Baidu, the current most popular search engine in China with a 75 % share of the country’s search engine market. And there is also a Hong Kong-based Google, coming up second with a 19.6 % market share. One can hardly think of the effort both Xinhua and China Mobile have yet to make to become a competitive player among those two.

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