BEIJING, March 24 (UPI) -- China's state media, quoting experts, sought to play down the impact of Google's decision to stop censoring its Chinese language search engine.
The experts also told Xinhua news agency Baidu and other Internet companies doing business in China would benefit from Google's withdrawal.
Baidu has been the market leader for online search in China, which boasts of about 350 million Internet users. Chinese media say Baidu currently has 60 percent of the search services market inside China, compared with Google's 30 percent.
In an announcement Monday from its Mountain View, Calif., office, Google said it will stop censoring its Chinese Web site, and that its mainland users would be redirected to the uncensored pages on its Hong Kong Web site.
Although Chinese government officials reacted strongly against Google's decision, the Xinhua report quoted some users as saying it was a "publicity stunt."
Some experts said they believed Google had acted out of business and market concerns. Others said the Google issue will not affect Chinese-U.S. ties, which currently are strained over trade and currency issues.
"Google's redirecting Google.cn to Google.com.hk is a compromised decision reflecting that the company wants to save its reputation in China," one user was quoted as saying.
"Google faces censorship in about 25 countries, but why does it only quit the Chinese mainland? Because it can not beat Baidu," Nanjing University lecturer Wang Yu told Xinhua. "Google does not give up its smart phone operating system Android or other partnerships with domestic Internet companies, because unlike Google.cn, they are all promising."
Google decided to stop censoring its Chinese Web site in response to the hacking of Gmail accounts belonging to human rights activists.