In sectors where it tries to appear liberal and open, a quick and easy search reveals that far more comprehensive offerings are available just a click away. The five bars on top feature options to search for news, webpages, pictures, videos, maps, as well as two features designed to be more unique: "Food Safety" and "Exposure Platform." Food safety displays articles about Chinese and international health problems, but nothing that's not much more accessible and better curated at Baidu. Exposure Platform's webpage, alas, is also made up almost entirely of food and health scare articles, mirroring a push by the government to improve food and health safety. Searching Exposure Platform for the English or Chinese for Bloomberg, which in 2012 published a series of explosive reports on high-level corruption, or for the scandal-ridden former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, returns an icon with a warning sign and the phrase "Very sorry, we were unable to find exposes related to" the item searched. A recent search for the Chinese phrase "Xi Jinping Corruption" on the Exposure Platform returns only one search result ... about China's new leader's calls for a crackdown on corruption. Neither Baidu nor Google pretend to be solving the government's problems by mentioning low-level scandals and ignoring the bigger issues.
Lee's comments stung, especially as Lee is the founding present of Google China, a service that Jike has unabashedly (and unsuccessfully) copied from the beginning: Jike was originally called Goso and its logo bore a suspicious resemblance to Google's famous colorful icon. Jike still seemed so similar as of November 2011 that an article in Shanghai's Oriental Morning Daily was titled "Deng Yaping: Jike Search won't completely imitate Google."
So does Jike do anything well? It's a surprisingly good source for movies. In both an English- and Chinese-language search for "Batman," for example, the first hit that comes up is a link that takes you to a "High Definition Movie Channel" with a big link for watching the movies instantly on file-sharing site Youku (though in the United States, where I conducted all of the searches mentioned in this article, the video won't run, instead showing a note that says, "Sorry, this video can only be streamed within Mainland China.").
Perhaps the only advantage Jike holds over Google is its government connection. After Lee publically questioned Jike, he found himself locked out of his microblog for the first time. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but that week Deng had found herself and the search engine the target of fierce criticism, with articles in the Chinese press claiming she had cut 100 people out of Jike's nearly 500-person staff, and that she bragged about her ping-pong exploits during staff meetings, telling her employees that "she was always No. 1" and that they must learn from the best and "emulate Google."
But clearly, for the Chinese Communist Party, that's easier said than done.