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China launches Tibetan-language search engine

Friday 26 August 2016, by SIGNIS

Beijing, August, 26th, 2016 (BBC). Recently, the world’s first Tibetan-language search engine was launched in China. “Yongzin”, which means "teacher" or "master" in Tibetan, was launched in western Qinghai province, to provide an online service to Tibetan readers.

In China, there are approximately seven million ethnic Tibetans. They have a difficult time finding information in their own language, as Google is blocked in China, and Baidu, leading domestic search-engine caters primarily to Chinese speakers.

Official Chinese media, such as state broadcaster CCTV and the China News Service (CNS), announced the "world’s first" launch of Yongzin.com on 22 August. CNS says that The Tibetan Information Technology Research Centre, began construction on the platform in April 2013 "to meet the global demand for a personalised service for Tibetan netizens".

CNS says that the plan for a Tibetan-language search engine was originally agreed under China’s 12th Five Year Plan (2011 - 2015) as an initiative to increase awareness of ethnic minorities.

“As Google is blocked in China, Tibetans have previously largely relied on using Chinese-language search engine Baidu. With its distinct multicoloured logo, the new Tibetan service appears to be visually more similar to Google than Baidu’s”, says the BBC.

It allows users to create a yongzin.com e-mail address, and allows users to search in Tibetan for news, images, videos and music. Yongzin also provides a Wikipedia-like encyclopedia and a forum service similar to Yahoo Answers.

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