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Asia and Pacific Region Forum

US search engines 'hijacked' in China

 12:46 am on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

US search engines 'hijacked' in China [todayonline.com]
US Internet search engines in China were being hijacked and directed to Chinese-owned Baidu, analysts said Wednesday, speculating that the move was in retaliation for Washington's award to Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.



 1:06 am on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

The People's Republic of China, being member/signatory of the WIPO, Paris IP Protection Convention, and Madrid Agreement on trademarks; in addition having concluded the Sino-US Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights, surely must be legally liable or liable to some form of action (e.g. the US sanctions which the latter agreement avoided on condition of continued enforcement); if not action against the government, action against whichever level of commercial Internet infrastructure permitted this passing off.

See also:
Article 5 of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law (PRC law, effective December 1 1993) paragraphs 2 and 3 which specifically refer to the case of passing off as a well-known product, or using a name, packaging or decoration similar to that well-known product, or causing confusion with that well-known product, or misleading a buyer to think that the offered product IS the well-known product.

Perhaps this law might be applied to Baidu who, given this isn't the first time, should have put in place protection to reject traffic which was intended for other engines.

Would be nice to see legal action on this issue; this isn't the censorship which the PRC tries to justify, this is an abuse of trademarks and theft of traffic for petty reasons.

Please edit if you feel this is politics, however I believe it is nothing but a commercial trademark and business issue


 1:54 am on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Keep in mind that the reasoning behind this redirection was purely speculation. There's no evidence other than a coincidence in timing that this traffic was switched for political retribution.


 3:05 am on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Bill, that's a good point; however it is highly unlikely that a technical or accidental fault would result in routing the traffic to Baidu. Not resolvable or no connectivity is one thing; routing to Baidu does seem to be deliberate.


 6:41 am on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

There were reports of this happening years ago. When Google was unreachable from China many said they were simply re-routed to Baidu. Some argue that this forced redirection was what propelled Baidu to it's current leading status in the China market. Google was simply too difficult to access from China for so long that customers eventually got used to using Baidu.


 7:25 am on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Would be nice to see legal action on this issue

I'm the first person to say "use the courts" for some action, but China is a country.. not a poorly behaving company.

Kinda hard to enforce minor laws about IPs and such when they dominate 25%+ of the entire world's economy.

Not to mention, anyone familiar with Silk Alley, located immediately outside of the US embassy in Beijing, understands that "trademark" laws have absolutely no relevance in Chinese culture.


 7:36 am on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Would be nice to see legal action on this issue; this isn't the censorship which the PRC tries to justify, this is an abuse of trademarks and theft of traffic for petty reasons.

I don't know about the rest but does Google have a complaint? They accepted censorship as a way of life over there when they censored their own results to satisfy the Chinese government a couple of years ago.


 8:06 am on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Baidu, however, are a commercial entity with a NASDAQ listing, and as it is their servers which accepted the mis-resolved traffic and served up their own search engine instead; that would seem a good place to start a legal process. Redirection of foreign search engines to Baidu has happened in the past; it is reasonable to expect them to have put in place something to stop their servers impersonating other search engines by responding to their domain name. Also, ISPs such as CHINANET had a responsibility to stop the misdirection of their customers; another commercial target.


 4:57 pm on Oct 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

PC World via Yahoo! News: China Not Redirecting Search-Engine Traffic to Baidu [news.yahoo.com]

Internet users in Beijing and Shanghai said attempts to access Google Inc. and other search engines were successful Friday, despite claims on a U.S. blog that traffic to these sites was redirected to Chinese search engine Baidu.com Inc.

The claim first surfaced on TechCrunch, a U.S. blog that largely covers Internet startups before being picked up by other sites. The headline of that post alleged "Baidu hijacking Google traffic In China," but offered no evidence to prove the claim apart from an undated, modified screenshot showing Baidu's Web page below the URL for Google Blogsearch.

(Emphasis is mine.)

Propaganda is a multi-edged sword...


 1:33 am on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

For the sake of argument vincevincevince what other publicly listed company goes to such measures? There's certainly no rule or regulations in the NASDAQ charter that says a company must act in such a way. Why would it be expected that a company take measure to stop incoming traffic? Whose interest would that serve?


 3:40 am on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Bill, they have good reason to believe that the fact that the DNS system within the P.R.C. has resolved 'something' to their IP is not an accurate indication of the fact that 'something' is in fact their domain name. That should be evident by past occurances of similar actions.

If you agree that they know this; then it follows they know that they are at risk of illegally passing themselves off as another website, e.g. Google. I'm sure I don't have to justify the importance of not leaving yourself liable like that. They had two reasonable options; the first to redirect to Google's IP, the second to refuse the traffic.

In terms of serving an interest, it would avoid causing losses to other search engines (e.g. Google) through market share erosion as a result of this passing off.

Kenny payment asia

 4:24 am on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are there any ways to find out whether our company web site is being blocked in the China region or not? If we do not have any contact there to help trying out everyday?

Thanks :)


 6:16 am on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

It doesn't seem that there's much evidence that this actually happened to begin with, so all we can do is speculate at this point. This could have been any number of things.

Even if this did happen I'm not convinced that it's Baidu's responsibility to take action. If the Chinese government decides to do something within their own laws and within the confines of their own country it's hard to say that a Chinese corporation should take steps to thwart that action. (They probably wouldn't last long if they did.) Whether or not you or I agree with it is not going to be a consideration.


 6:19 am on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are there any ways to find out whether our company web site is being blocked in the China region or not?

There used to be a service you could use to check:Domains Blocked by China [webmasterworld.com]
I don't think it works anymore. Your best option is to ask people in China to check for you if you suspect a block.

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