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Baidu

If one of this year's highlights is the rise of the search engines, then 2005 must also be one of the best years for China's Baidu.

If one of this year's highlights is the rise of the search engines, then 2005 must also be one of the best years for China's public-listed search portal Baidu.

For a company that only began operations in 2000, Baidu has come a long way in the past five years. In its home country, the Chinese search engine has overtaken Google as the consumers' top choice of search engine.

According to a report by the China Internet Network Information Center in August, Baidu commands 52 percent share of China's total search engine users, with Google trailing behind with 33 percent.

Google itself has taken note of the upstart, and announced in June this year that it had invested in Baidu.

In August, Baidu announced its initial public offering. A total of 4 million American depository shares were offered at US$27 per ADS, rising to US$123.90 at the end of first trading day .

However, it has not been all smooth going for the Chinese search engine. While its most popular feature is the MP3 search, which is similar to the image search of Google, that feature has gotten it into legal trouble. Baidu faced several lawsuits brought by music companies, and was ordered by a Beijing court to stop directing users to music download sites.

But that will probably not stop Baidu in its quest to become the Google of China, where there is a potential audience of an estimated 100 million Internet users.