Xinhua, China’s official news agency, and China Mobile, China’s largest mobile telecoms operator, are setting up a mobile search company together, the two state groups said on Thursday.
The move comes amid upheaval in the Chinese online search market as other players attempt to grab market share following Google’s partial exit from the market this year in a dispute with the government over censorship.
However, the joint venture’s political significance is expected to far outweigh its commercial impact. Xinhua was unavailable for comment but the news agency described the deal as a propaganda manoeuvre.
The Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report provides additional background:
Xinhua, in a news story about itself, said Thursday it signed a framework agreement with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers, to launch a search joint venture. It will “make full use” of Xinhua’s position in media content and China Mobile’s user base, Xinhua said, suggesting the venture will also promote Xinhua news articles.
The move comes after the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, in June launched a beta search engine, dubbed “People’s Search” in Chinese. The search engine has a snappier and perhaps more capitalistic English name, Goso, which might sound to a bilingual listener like “go search,” since the sound “so” means “search” in Chinese.
Read also a report from the The New York Times.