SHANGHAI: Leading Chinese search engine has unveiled its first instant messaging service in a bid to expand its online community.

Baidu Hi is designed to run alongside rivals such as Microsoft's MSN and Tencent's QQ. It combines the communication function with Baidu's existing search function.

Claims vp Shen Haoyu: "As a newcomer, we don't aim to compete with rivals. Instead, the IM is a key component for us to establish an online community."

In addition, the firm has launched online games and forum services and plans to offer an auction site by the end of 2008.

Data sourced from (China); additional content by WARC staff