By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, August 24: China has launched its first Tibetan-language search engine ‘Yongzin.com’ on Monday, taking design cues from Google.
The world’s first search engine exclusively in the Tibetan language, ‘Yongzin’ translates to ‘master’ or ‘teacher’ in Tibetan. Major Chinese search engines like Baidu and Sogou do not search in Tibetan. While Google does search in Tibetan, it has been blocked in China for years.
The search engine (yongzin.com) will serve as a unified portal for all major Tibetan language websites in China, reports Chinese state media Xinhua, Aug 23.
The search engine features eight sections, news, websites, images, videos, music, encyclopedia, literature and forums. Its contents are also categorized according to different local dialects such as Amdo, Khamba and U-Tsang dialect, the report added.
“The search engine will meet the growing needs of the Tibetan-speaking population and facilitate the building of Tibetan digital archives and the expansion of databases in the Tibetan language,” the report quoted Tselo, Director of the Tibetan Language Work Committee of the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai, as saying in the report.
Started in April 2013, the state-funded project was completed at the cost of 57 million Yuan (about $8.7 million).
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Chinese government has censored the search engine. It yields totally different search results when compared with Google.
“Searching ‘Free Tibet’ in Tibetan on Yongzin brings up a 2014 People’s Daily article about ‘illegal publications’ related to Tibet and Xinjiang independence as the top result”, qz.com quoted a researcher from Tibet Watch, a Tibet advocacy group on condition of anonymity, Aug 23.