Search terms related to China’s “Black Monday” are being censored on the country’s top search engines. But the suggested Chinese-language search terms on search engines in the greater China area remain an interesting—albeit entirely unscientific—way to gauge what sort of questions Chinese-speaking people want answered.
Chris Buckley of the New York Times noticed this morning that when you enter “China’s economy is” into the search bar of Baidu, China’s homegrown and generally censorship-happy search engine, the top suggestion for a search is telling:
And it’s not only Baidu in which this suggestion appears at the top. Enter the same phrase into search engine Bing’s China site, and again the question “How was the Chinese economy destroyed?” appears at the top:
Other entries on Bing’s list of suggestions include: “Is China’s economy falling into the US’s trap?” and “How many times larger is China’s economy than Japan’s?”
Google doesn’t have a mainland Chinese site, but enter the same phrase again to its Hong Kong page and the same question appears at the top once more. Chinese speaking Google users are also wondering: “Is China’s economy on the brink of danger?” and “Is China’s economy a Ponzi scheme?”
Clearly, there is an appetite in China for some straight answers. And the information Chinese speakers are looking for is different from what English speakers are looking for. Google’s suggestions in English for “China’s economy is…” are mostly negative statements, for example: