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Microsoft, Baidu to collaborate

By Joe McDonald
Associated Press / July 6, 2011

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BEIJING - Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. will use Microsoft’s Bing for some English-language results as the software giant tries to expand its small share of China’s search market.

China has the world’s biggest population of Internet users, with more than 450 million people online.

Global e-commerce, search, and other Internet brands have struggled to gain a foothold against aggressive local competitors in a heavily regulated market.

No financial details of the tie-up between Microsoft Corp. and Baidu were released.

The Chinese company has been looking at possible expansion abroad.

Google Inc., which competes against Bing and Baidu, closed its China search engine last year after saying it no longer wanted to cooperate with government censorship.

Chinese users can reach Google’s site in Hong Kong, a Chinese territory without censorship, but government filters can make access sluggish, and its China market share has declined.

For this deal, it appears that Microsoft will censor English-language Bing search results in China.

Microsoft said in a statement that Bing will use “certain filtering technologies and processes to ensure that we are in compliance with local laws.’’

There is “obviously no legal obligation’’ for Microsoft to stay out of China, said Jillian York, director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civilliberties group in San Francisco.

But she called the decision a mistake, adding that if the price of entering China is to censor search results, then Bing should have stayed out of the country.