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Reports: China 'hijacking' Google, Yahoo, Microsoft search sites

When Chinese Web surfers try to use the three big U.S. search engines, they're reportedly redirected to Baidu. Recent political events, including Dalai Lama's American award, may be to blame.

Ticked off that the United States gave the Dalai Lama the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal this week, China may be taking out its aggression by "hijacking" American search engines.

There's speculation that the Dalai Lama's recent award from President Bush (their meeting, pictured above) has prompted Net users in China to be rerouted from U.S. search sites to Baidu. White House

Over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan reports that numerous users trying to access Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft search engines from within China or using Chinese Internet service providers are being redirected to Chinese-owned search engine Baidu.

Sullivan says it's not exactly clear how that process is working, but he cites a news report from 2002 that indicates this sort of thing has happened in China before. At the time, a Baidu official denied having any part in the rerouting.

So is the Chinese government to blame? After all, its extensive attempts at censoring what its citizens view on the Internet have been well-documented.

It's worth noting, however, that the reported redirects may not have any direct link to the Dalai Lama events. The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Beijing has been ramping up its filtering of political sites in an attempt to stifle political dissent leading up to the Communist Party Congress, a meeting in which leaders are selected to serve under the president for the next five years.