Baidu, China’s number one choice for search, has announced a new deal with Microsoft that will see the search company’s English queries be directed to Bing, with the results being published to Baidu’s own pages.

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Announced Monday, the deal offers Microsoft a path into the Chinese market that it wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to explorer, and with Google pulling back from the battle in China, Microsoft’s move makes even more sense.

According to Reuters, Baidu currently accounts for 80% of the search market inside China and with half a billion internet users, that equates to a considerable number of customers.

Baidu has about 80 percent of the search market in China — a nation with almost half a billion Internet users and still only about 30 percent penetration — after Google left mainland China in a high-profile fallout with Beijing over censorship.

Bing — which filters out results in China relating to controversial subjects, such as political dissidents, Taiwan or pornography, to be able to operate in the country — has a negligible share of the market, while Google has nearly 20 percent counting visits to its offshore sites.

Google has all but pulled out of China after a raft of cyber attacks on the company’s services, with Gmail being the main target. The attacks are claimed to originate from inside China, and Google’s public spat with the country has been well publicized over the last couple of years – clearly Microsoft has no such qualms over dealing with the Chinese.

Microsoft has thus far made no comment on the situation, other than to confirm the existence of the deal.

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