Report of Chinese Search Engine Embargo Is False

Bob Preston
CYBERSPACE — Reports that the Chinese government is redirecting traffic from the three major search engines to a more censorship-friendly search engine apparently are false.

The blog TechCrunch.com first reported that traffic to the Google.com, Yahoo.com and Live.com search engines were landing instead on Baidu.com.

Baidu.com's Chinese-language version filters Internet content according to the Chinese government's policy.

But PCWorld.com reported Friday that six Internet users in two Chinese cities were able to access the three major search engines.

Despite the false alarm, Internet censorship remains a problem in China, where regulators often screen content they object to, and where the motives and actions of the central government remain largely unknown.

What would happen if the Chinese government were to hijack traffic from the three major search engines? Internet traffic experts offered different theories, but they agreed that the impact on the adult industry would be negligible at first.

ExpressPro.com Managing Director Benoit Le Chevallier told XBIZ that a Chinese embargo on the major search engines would have no financial effect on the industry.

"The Chinese market has no buying power," he said, estimating that a mere third of the population has Internet access.

Le Chevallier also said that billing companies have had a difficult time offering their services in China. Representatives from CCBill told XBIZ that they're willing to work with Chinese consumers and webmasters, but a representative from Paycom told XBIZ that they can accept transactions from customers worldwide, but that their clients must be based in the U.S. or Europe.

But despite the spotty access to billing solutions and the oppressive regime, Tela Andrews, ExpressPro.com's VP and general manager, told XBIZ that China could become a major market for adult webmasters.

"While customers from mainland China are not being targeted directly by my advertisers at this point, and indeed many request to exclude Chinese traffic because of low credit card adoption, it will be a very important growth market in the next two to three years," Andrews said.

For perspective, Andrews said that traffic from nearby Taiwan does very well for his advertisers because of the country's high credit card adoption rates.

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