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China reroutes search engine traffic

Online users in China accessing three search giants--Yahoo, Google and Microsoft Live--may instead see China's own search engine Baidu.

Reports have surfaced that China is redirecting traffic from foreign search engines operated by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, to homegrown Baidu.com.

According to various reports online, some online users in China attempting to access Google.com, Microsoft's Live.com and Yahoo.com search sites have been redirected to China-based Baidu.com.

Blog site TechCrunch reported that traffic to Google's blog search was being re-routed to Baidu. TechCrunch later published another article saying that a similar situation was observed with the other two search giants.

Vivian Wong, a manager at CB Richard Ellis in Shanghai, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview that visits to the three search engines showed Baidu's homepage, instead.

Beijing-based David Feng wrote in his blog Thursday that he was able to gain access to both Google and Yahoo, but not Live.com or another search engine, AltaVista.

However, Ori Elraviv, CEO of Dragon Ports in Beijing, said he had no problems getting through to the sites. Elraviv told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview: "I find such an occurrence really hard to believe.

"Blocking a service is one thing, diverting it to a competitor is a completely different story," Elraviv said. Dragon Ports is a developer of mobile applications.

Google has, however, confirmed the traffic rerouting episodes. In response to queries, Google sent similar statements to The Register and search engine blogger, Danny Sullivan, noting: "While this is clearly unfortunate, we've seen this happen before and are confident that service will be restored to our users in the very near future."

China has been involved in previous allegations of Internet censorship, though the local government has denied such claims.

Incidentally, Google sold its minority stake in Baidu last year, explaining that it was doing so to focus on building the Chinese version of its search engine google.cn.