SHANGHAI: Baidu.com Inc., China's top Web search firm, has started up a Japanese search site, its first regular service outside its home market.
The Web site features a search bar for Web page and image searches, as well as user help and advanced services.
Sources familiar with the situation had told Reuters early this month that the company, dubbed "China's Google", would launch its first overseas expansion as early as March.
The Web site, which until recently was a single-page notice with no links to services, did not indicate when the service had gone live, and a representative from Baidu could not immediately be reached for comment.
Beijing-based Baidu had set up a Japanese subsidiary and registered the Web address for its Japanese-language portal, according to the sources.
One of the sources added that Baidu chairman Robin Li had also expressed interest in Korean-language search services.
Baidu competes with global leader Google Inc., which already offers Web search services in Japanese and Korean.
China is the world's second-largest Internet market after the United States with around 137 million Web users.