Chinese Tech Abroad: Baidu in Thailand
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Internet Policy Observatory
Sarah Logan, Brendan Molloy, and Graeme Smith, ‘Chinese Tech Abroad: Baidu in Thailand’, Report by the Internet Policy Observatory, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 17 May 2018.
This report investigates the expansion of the Chinese search engine, Baidu, into Thailand. Baidu is also one of China’s largest internet technology companies, and like all Chinese technology companies, when operating within Chinese borders it must comply with the Chinese state’s demands for information control on sensitive topics. Baidu’s move into markets outside China echoes similar expansionist activities by other Chinese technology companies, making it a useful initial case study for understanding the implications of Chinese information controls expanded beyond Chinese borders. This is particularly important given that the size of such companies suggests that the expansion of Chinese companies may be successful, especially in emerging markets. This report tests two hypotheses. The first is that China progresses the information controls it imposes on Baidu within China when Baidu operates abroad – in this case, in Thailand. The second is that a company of Baidu’s size will demonstrate clear indicators of success when expanding into new markets. The report finds that neither of these hypotheses is proven. Instead, Baidu does not appear to progress Chinese state information controls for Chinese language searches from Thailand. Additionally, Baidu demonstrates very few indicators of clear market success in Thailand, despite its considerable market capitalisation.