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Baidu CEO 'confident' of defeating Google, but China disagrees

Between Baidu and Google, Chinese internet users are choosing the latter.

Google to focus on Artificial Intelligence research in China
Rumours of Google's planned return to China are rife, and Chinese internet users look ready to welcome it back to the country.
Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Baidu CEO Robin Li is confident the company will win in a fight with Google in China, but Chinese internet users don't seem to agree.

The man behind Baidu, China's version of Google, declared his company is very confident of engaging in another battle with the US-based search giant and winning again if it decides to make a return to the mainland, local media reported, citing Li's WeChat post to friends late Monday.

Li was expressing his opinion pertaining to a now-deleted op-ed on state-run media People's Daily saying Google's return to China is welcomed on the condition that it abides by Chinese regulations. China is notorious for its censorship laws and restricting free expression online.

Few Chinese internet users share his optimism though. On China's Twitter equivalent Weibo, Baidu is criticised for being immoral and internet users are saying if Google returns, they will use that instead of Baidu.

Screengrab by Zoey Chong/CNET

At time of writing, a poll on the platform showed nearly 90 percent of voters will use Google instead of Baidu if the former makes a return to the country.

Screengrab by Zoey Chong/CNET

There's been a lot of speculation that Google is planning a return to China since it was first reported last week that a project codenamed Dragonfly has been underway since last Spring, including an Android app that's already been shown to the Chinese government.

While state-owned China Securities Daily denied the rumours, US senators are concerned, having sent a letter Friday to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking him to explain if the company is indeed returning to China with a new search engine designed to censor terms and websites referencing human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protest.

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