Interview: Big potential lies in China-S. Korea internet cooperation: Baidu's Robin Li

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China and South Korea see great potential for cooperation in the internet sector as the two nations shares the common ground of technology innovation, said Robin Li (Li Yanhong), chairman and chief executive officer of China's search engine giant Baidu in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Friday.

"China is a large market and South Korea's close neighbor. Most of their enterprises have a strong willingness to work with China. I also got some first-hand impression on their influence and achievements during my visit to South Korea this time," said Li.

Li was one of the 250 business executives followed Chinese President Xi Jinping's official visit to South Korea. This is the biggest ever foreign business delegation to South Korea, according to the Korea Chamber of Commerce.

Li is popular among South Korea's business circle. Oh Young-ho, CEO of South Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), the country's state-funded trade and investment promotion organization, has arranged a closed-door meeting with Li on Friday, talking about future cooperation.

Li attributed Baidu's fame in South Korea to its commitment in technology innovation. From the core hyperlink analysis technology to the emerging Artificial Intelligence and learning technology, Baidu is always regarded technology innovation as its fundamental of living and development, he said.

"We should be proud that China and South Korea are two among four countries around world that have core search engine technology," said Li, mentioning South Korea's top search engine Naver.

The Asian internet market, represented by China and South Korea, has acquired competitive advantages through on-going technology innovation in recent years, boosting the development of relevant industry, said Li.

The new technology and products are gradually shifting to Asia, making it a new hub of technology innovation around the world, he added.

Since the 1970s, the United States has been branded as a hub of the global internet development, cultivating most of the technology and products innovation because of its largest internet users and best technological engineers. It also leads the internet resources and rules-making.

"But now things are different," said Li, adding that China, with its 600 million netizens, is ranked as the world's No.1 internet market, while South Korea features world's leading rates for mobile internet and broadband and internet speed.

"The combination of a large internet market and a market with advanced infrastructure will give us infinite imagination," said Li.

"The alliance will enable China and South Korea to enjoy more opportunities than the U.S., facing new demands from users earlier and seizing new chances results from these demands."

Baidu and South Korea-based electronics giant Samsung have cooperated closely on technology fields. Samsung mobiles' photo album has applied "Baidu Cloud", while Baidu's voice technology makes Samsung Gear's fluent man-machine conversation possible.

"At present, Samsung mobile still keeps the largest market share in China. As Baidu also values the mobile market in recent years, the two sides still share many common interests," said Li, adding that Baidu's software advantages and Samsung's hardware tradition will enable a considerable scope for collaboration in future.

Baidu also started to work with South Korea's entertainment industry. Li said Baidu has signed MoU with South Korea's S.M. Entertainment earlier this year, in charge of S.M.'s official music and video authorization in Chinese mainland.

"Baidu Tieba", the online community integrated with the search engine, "Baidu Music", "Baidu Video" and other platform products will seek deep cooperation with S.M. on market promotion, jointly producing TV programs and other fields, supplying online promoting platform for S.M.'s K-pop stars.

Baidu Tieba has more than 20 million active K-pop fans, accounting for 40 percent of South Korea's population.

"An old Chinese proverb says that if two people unite as one, their strength is powerful enough to cut metal, which can be used to describe the future of China and South Korea's cooperation in the field of internet," said Li. Endi

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