China's State News Agency Launches Search Engine

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China's ruling Communist Party through its news agency has launched its own Internet search site in an effort to control what the Chinese public can see online.

The site is operated by China's main government news agency and government-owned phone company. It is designed to offer users a state-approved version of the Internet.

The Xinhua News Agency is operating Panguso in partnership with state-owned China Mobile Ltd., the world's biggest phone carrier by subscribers.

Xinhua and China Mobile announced the venture in August after Google Inc. closed its China-based search engine, saying it no longer wanted to comply with Chinese censorship and complaining its e-mail service was hacked from China.

Xinhua said it hopes to make Panguso one of China's leading search engines.

"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.

The net venture gives China's communist government a tool to try to control what the Chinese people can view online. For example, searches for the Dalai Lama find only articles criticizing the exiled Tibetan leader.

Searches for the Tianenmen Square massacre yielded no results.

China has the world's biggest population of Internet users with 457 million people online as of Dec. 31, and 303 million people searched the Web by mobile phone last year, according to a state-sanctioned industry group, the China Internet Network Information Center. China Mobile says it has more than 589 million accounts.

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