A screenshot shows the landing page for the Arabic version of Baidu’s question-and-answer site, Baidu Knows.
The Thai version of Baidu’s Hao 123 web directory, complete with Google search bar.

Baidu founder Robin Li told China’s propaganda chief Li Changchun that his company has ambitions to be world-famous, and he wasn’t kidding.

The Chinese search giant, which already had services in Japanese, has quietly launched new products for the Egypt and Thailand markets. The Egypt site is an Arabic version of its Google Answers-like question-and-answer service Baidu Knows, while in Thailand the company has launched a local-language version of its web directory Hao123.

Baidu had issued a statement Thursday saying Mr. Li met with top Chinese officials at an exhibition in Beijing this month, and expressed hopes to “become a universally recognized brand in over half the world’s countries,” to which China’s propaganda chief responded by encouraging Mr. Li to win “honor for Chinese companies.”

The Arabic Baidu Zhidao, which allows users to post questions and reward other users for good answers, launched last week with a message (in English) inviting users to ask a question. As of Thursday evening, over 6,000 questions had been answered, according to the site, though it still looked bare. Love, health and soccer were among the hottest topics.

Like its Chinese predecessor, the Thai version of Hao123 is a directory that posts links to a simple webpage so they are easily found by inexperienced Internet users. The page features weather forecasts in Bangkok, links to Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Yahoo, Apple and Amazon.

“In these markets, we’re dipping our toes in the water and just learning the lay of the land,” Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said Thursday. “We’re not in a huge hurry. We can be patient.”

Baidu is also testing a Baidu Zhidao site in Thai.

Interestingly, the Thai version of Hao123 also features a search bar at the top of of the page by Baidu’s biggest competitor in China, Google.

– Loretta Chao. Follow her on Twitter @lorettac

After keeping its currency tightly linked to the US dollar for years, China in July 2005 revalued its currency by 2 % against the US dollar and moved to an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies.

The Chinese government seeks to add energy production capacity from sources other than coal and oil, and is focusing on nuclear and other alternative energy development.

The People’s Republic of China is the world’s second largest economy after the United States by both nominal GDP ($5 trillion in 2009) and by purchasing power parity ($8.77 trillion in 2009).

Nevertheless, key bottlenecks continue to constrain growth.

Its mineral resources are probably among the richest in the world but are only partially developed.

A report by UBS in 2009 concluded that China has experienced total factor productivity growth of 4 per cent per year since 1990, one of the fastest improvements in world economic history.

The market-oriented reforms China has implemented over the past two decades have unleashed individual initiative and entrepreneurship, whilst retaining state domination of the economy.

The growth in both outbound investment from, and inbound investment to, China reflects the nation’s rising economic power and attractiveness as an investment destination.

From January to June, the ODI in financial sectors was up by 44 percent to $17.9 billion, and in July alone, the ODI recorded $8.91 billion, the highest this year.

China reiterated the nation’s goals for the next decade – increasing market share of pure-electric and plug-in electric autos, building world-competitive auto makers and parts manufacturers in the energy-efficient auto sector as well as raising fuel-efficiency to world levels.

Although China is still a developing country with a relatively low per capita income, it has experienced tremendous economic growth since the late 1970s.

Despite initial gains in farmers’ incomes in the early 1980s, taxes and fees have increasingly made farming an unprofitable occupation, and because the state owns all land farmers have at times been easily evicted when croplands are sought by developers.

China is the world’s largest producer of rice and wheat and a major producer of sweet potatoes, sorghum, millet, barley, peanuts, corn, soybeans, and potatoes.

Horses, donkeys, and mules are work animals in the north, while oxen and water buffalo are used for plowing chiefly in the south.

There are also extensive iron-ore deposits; the largest mines are at Anshan and Benxi, in Liaoning province.

China’s leading export minerals are tungsten, antimony, tin, magnesium, molybdenum, mercury, manganese, barite, and salt.

The largest completed project, Gezhouba Dam, on the Chang (Yangtze) River, opened in 1981; the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest engineering project, on the lower Chang, is scheduled for completion in 2009.
Beginning in the late 1970s, changes in economic policy, including decentralization of control and the creation of special economic zones to attract foreign investment, led to considerable industrial growth, especially in light industries that produce consumer goods.

Although a British crown colony until its return to Chinese control in 1997, Hong Kong has long been a major maritime outlet of S China.
Rivers and canals (notably the Grand Canal, which connects the Huang He and the Chang rivers) remain important transportation arteries.

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Baidu Brushes Up On its Arabic, Thai