Since Google Search’s exit from China in 2010, homegrown tech giant Baidu has absorbed most of the Chinese search engine market, dominating over 70% of its market share. With rumors that Google is making a return and a state media commentary welcoming its re-entry, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li appears confident about defeating its past rival again; “If Google decides to return to China, we will fight and beat them again,” Li said in a WeChat post.

Many – including the 86% of participants of an internet poll who indicated their preference for Google over Baidu – would encourage Li to reconsider his statement. Even when the two search engines are subject to the same level of control, one could propose a handful of reasons to choose Google Search over Baidu: the Chinese tech giant’s innumerable copyright infringements, blatant disregard for user privacy, and equivocal ethical standards have constantly put it on the spotlight of public outcry.

Be that as it may, it is likely that Google will not beat Baidu in the search engine sector if it returns. Prior to Google’s exit in 2010, Baidu had a significantly larger market share than did its American rival. In China, user acquisition follows a different set of rules than the US, making the turf war between Google and Baidu not a competition between product qualities, but localized marketing strategies.

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Tianyu Fang

A Boston-based freelance writer on Chinese tech and culture, and an independent researcher on US-China relations. Previously, he lived in Beijing, where he worked closely with China’s tech startup community.