With Google having pulled out of China over censorship concerns, Microsoft spotted an opportunity and has signed a deal with Chinese search engine Baidu to provide it with English language search results.
Baidu currently offers few English-language results for search queries in China, despite the fact that many searches are conducted in English. But starting later this year, the search engine will direct English searches to Microsoft’s Bing, which will deliver the results back to Baidu’s web pages.
Search results will most certainly be censored, in line with Chinese policy. Rather than submit to this, Google made the decision to redirect visitors to the Google.cn page to its Hong Kong search site instead.
The new deal gives Microsoft a chance to establish Bing against the global dominance of Google Search. China has the world's biggest number of internet users, over 450 million altogether.
Baidu, for its part, is hoping that the deal will help it expand internationally, and is working on developing products in several other languages. It already receives more than ten million English searches a day.
Baidu currently holds a good three quarters of the Chinese search market. Bing has just one percent, according to research firm Analysys International; Google, despite the difficulties caused by its stand on censorship, has still managed to hang on to about 19 percent. With Chinese users now having an alternative way of getting English language results, this could now fall further.