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China accused of rerouting search traffic to Baidu

Google confirms reports that users attempting to access popular American search engines have been redirected to China-based Baidu.

Reports have surfaced that China is redirecting traffic from foreign search engines operated by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to homegrown Baidu.com.

According to various reports online, some online users in China attempting to access Google.com, Microsoft's Live.com and Yahoo.com search sites have been redirected to China-based Baidu.com.

Blog site TechCrunch reported that Chinese traffic to Google's blog search engine was being rerouted to Baidu. TechCrunch later published another article saying a similar situation was observed with the other two search giants.

Vivian Wong, a manager at CB Richard Ellis in Shanghai, said visits to the three search engines showed Baidu's home page instead.

Beijing-based David Feng wrote in his blog on Thursday that he was able to gain access to both Google and Yahoo, but not Microsoft's Live.com or Yahoo-owned search engine AltaVista.

However, Ori Elraviv, chief executive of Dragon Ports in Beijing, said he had no problems getting through to the sites. "I find such an occurrence really hard to believe. Blocking a service is one thing; diverting it to a competitor is a completely different story." Dragon Ports is a developer of mobile applications.

Google has, however, confirmed the traffic-rerouting episodes. In response to queries, Google sent similar statements to The Register and search engine blogger Danny Sullivan, noting: "While this is clearly unfortunate, we've seen this happen before and are confident that service will be restored to our users in the very near future."

China has been involved in previous allegations of Internet censorship, though the government has denied such claims.

Incidentally, Google sold its minority stake in Baidu last year, explaining that it was doing so to focus on building the Chinese version of its search engine, Google.cn.

Victoria Ho of ZDNet Asia reported from Singapore.