Baidu.com Inc (百度), China's most-used Internet search site, has introduced an online encyclopedia similar to Wikipedia that excludes information censored by the Chinese government.
Baidu aims to use the Baidupedia service, started last month, to attract users to its Web site and may later sell advertising alongside the content, Cynthia He, a spokeswoman, said in Beijing, where the company is based.
The introduction of the Baidu encyclopedia service comes after access to San Diego-based Wikipedia was blocked in China because it carried content critical of the government. Baidupedia, which like Wikipedia offers information written by its users, will censor material submitted for posting. Google Inc, the world's biggest search engine and Baidu's main competitor, introduced China sites in January.
``We are following the same laws that the entire Chinese Internet is held to,'' He said.
China controls content disseminated via the mass media through state-ownership of all newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations.
China censors online content using the world's most "sophisticated" Internet filtering system, according to a joint study by the University of Toronto, Cambridge University, Oxford University and Harvard Law School.
Web sites banned in China include those of the British Broadcasting Corp and human rights group Amnesty International.
The Chinese-language version of Wikipedia has been blocked in China since late last year, the Financial Times reported yesterday, without citing a source.
Google's Chinese-language search site Google.cn excludes links to content such as pictures of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests, which were put down by the government.
Baidu.com had a 56.6 percent share of a Chinese search market at the end of last year, according to Shanghai-based research company IResearch Inc. Google had a 32.8 percent of the market and Yahoo! Inc. had a 5 percent share. Mountain View, California-based Google owns about a 2 percent stake in Baidu.