SINGAPORE (July 1): For years, Chinese search engine giant Baidu, one of the world’s top digital technology companies, was the envy of the Asian corporate world. Because of its resemblance to the global search giant, it has been dubbed the “Google of China”. A year ago, its market capitalisation briefly exceeded US$100 billion. If you had bought the stock at the IPO, from trough to peak you would have made a 110-fold gain. Over the past year or so, Baidu’s fortunes have dipped precipitously. Now the region’s once-shining tech star is struggling to stay relevant.

Unlike other Chinese tech players, Baidu cannot blame the ongoing US-China trade war or President Donald Trump’s tariffs for its woes. It does not export anything to the US nor has it been accused of stealing any technology or intellectual property. It is essentially a Chinese domestic-focused search engine that depends on local advertising. While the spectre of the trade war and new tariff barriers is undoubtedly slowing the Chinese economy and, as a result, ad spending, most of Baidu’s competitors are still growing their share of advertising.

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