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Baidu Starts English-Language Blog Site in Overseas Expansion

Baidu Inc., owner of China’s biggest search engine, started an English-language blog site aimed at overseas users as it expands services globally.

Baidu plans to post articles on what it deems as the prevailing trends and topics of interest among China’s Internet users on the site, said Kaiser Kuo, a spokesman for the Beijing-based company. The service, called Baidu Beat, started today and is intended for “China watchers,” he said.

“It’s a window on Chinese Internet culture,” Kuo said in a telephone interview. “It’s all derived from what’s being searched most in China.”

China’s government restricts access to web content that promote sex, gambling, and topics such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and Tibetan independence. Baidu and other Chinese Internet companies including Tencent Holdings Ltd. are stepping up services aimed at overseas users after dominating the domestic market.

Baidu, which started a Japanese-language search-engine service in 2008, accounted for 72.9 percent of China’s online search market in the third quarter of last year, according to iResearch, which studies Internet traffic. That’s almost three times the level for second-placed Google Inc., according to the Shanghai-based research company.

China had an estimated 420 million Internet users at the end of June, data from the government-sponsored China Internet Network Information Center show.

Tencent, which has 637 million user accounts for its flagship QQ instant messaging, said last month it will expand the service to English, Japanese and French speakers.

Users of Baidu Beat can send feedback, though they won’t be allowed to post directly to the blog, Kuo said. As of today, the site included posts about a Chinese hit song called "Perturbed" and a gunfight between police and a murder suspect in eastern Shandong province.

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