China's Internet search leader Baidu won approval to become an online news portal, government and industry sources, quoted by a Reuters report, said.
The Reuters said China's State Council Information Office (SCIO), granted Baidu an Internet news content service license last week, a government source said, allowing Baidu.com, often referred to as 'China's Google,' to do its own reporting rather than simply show news search results at present.
This will give Baidu a clear edge in terms of content over competitors who lack the permit, industry analysts quoted by Reuters said.
'This is definitely competition for Google,' said Doug Crets, a Hong Kong-based researcher at Media Partners Asia.
The SCIO is the cabinet spokesman's office, which is responsible for the government news release and jointly regulates Internet content with the culture and information ministries, the report said.
The Reuters report also said Baidu had already started preparing its news department and had been ready to hire news-related staff, according to the government source who is familiar with the situation.The company also changed the logo and name of its 'Information' channel to 'News' channel in Chinese characters on www.baidu.com early last week, the Reuters report said. A Baidu spokesperson declined to comment.