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China’s State News Agency Fires Up Its Own Search Engine

“If you can’t get the results from Google that you want you should just go out and start your own darn search engine!”

How many times have we heard that one? Most people just turn tail and hide, resigned to the fact that making a search engine isn’t all that easy. That is unless you are the Chinese government’s press agency! Since Google doesn’t like to play nice the Chinese government has taken search into its own hands.

The Washington Post reports:

China’s main government news agency launched an Internet search site Tuesday, giving its own sanitized view of the Web following Google’s closure of its China-based search engine last year over censorship.

The Xinhua News Agency is operating http://www.panguso.comin partnership with state-owned China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest phone carrier by subscribers.

The Chinese government hopes that the engine will be a leading Chinese search engine. No official indication was given if there would be force involved in getting to that position (it’s a joke, relax).

What’s not a joke is the following statement regarding the engine

“We would like to fully exploit the advantage of Xinhua as an official agency having a large collection of news and information, and that of China Mobile in terms of technology, advanced operation principles and strong infrastructure,” said Xinhua president Li Congjun in a statement released by the agency.

Yikes. Whenever there is an official Chinese release and “exploit the advantage” is a key phrase I get a little nervous.

As is to be expected the engine appears to have a selective memory or index or whatever.

Panguso, available on both Web and mobile phone, appears to filter even more stringently than other Chinese sites.

A search on Panguso for Liu Xiaobo, the jailed activist and Nobel Peace Laureate, returned no results. A search on Baidu turned up Chinese-language commentaries criticizing Liu.

Searches on Panguso for the Dalai Lama turned up tourism information for Tibet, followed by commentaries from Chinese state media criticizing the exiled Tibetan leader.

And Panguso has politically embarrassing gaps. It returned no result in a search for the website of People’s University in Beijing, the first university founded after the 1949 communist revolution and one of China’s most prominent institutions.

Even Baidu returned results that outsiders would see as political propaganda? Isn’t the Chinese government going to toot its own horn over its own criticism of Nobel Peace Laureates?

At any rate, few governments or organizations have taken things to this extreme and it will be interesting to see just how well this engine does. At least Baidu now has some ‘competition’, right?

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