China state newspaper launches search engine

The People's Daily, the mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist Party, this week officially launched its search engine service as the country's state media seek even greater influence on the Internet.

The newspaper celebrated the launch of - the first Chinese search engine backed by a state media organisation - with the formal release of its news search feature, seen as its key draw, the company said in a statement. wants to boost "China's say on the Internet" and aims to become "the most influential search engine platform" in the country, according to its website.

It acknowledged it could be hard to conquer the domestic web search market dominated by homegrown giant Baidu, which saw its share rise after US rival Google reduced its presence in China this year following a row with Beijing.

"Judging from the current Internet landscape, the challenges faces are unprecedented and our task is arduous," the company said.

Baidu had 73 percent of the China search market in the third quarter, while Google's share dwindled to 21.6 percent, data by research firm Analysys International showed.

In March, Google - angry over cyberattacks - said it would no longer bow to government censors and effectively shut down its Chinese search engine, re-routing mainland users to its uncensored site in Hong Kong. has been available on a trial basis since June. Other search features are soon expected to be operational, an official with the company, who declined to be named, told AFP on Tuesday.

The state-run Xinhua news agency has signed an agreement with China Mobile, the world's largest mobile operator, to launch a search service next year, the China Daily said.

China has the world's largest Internet population of more than 420 million users, according to official figures.