Sina.com (SINA) has launched its iAsk local search engine in Chongqing, becoming the third search engine in China behind Baidu and Google to provide such service. Sina will also open local search services in Jinan, Qingdao, Chengdu and Nanjing. Sina says these cities were chosen because they are home to many small and medium-sized enterprises.

Wang Yan, CEO of Sina, admits that are differences between iAsk and Baidu/Google in market share and public awareness, but he thinks iAsk is no less advanced than the latter two in technology.

He says that his company will invest a total of more than CNY100 million and will not expect to make any profit from the service in the next five years.

Sina has not worked out a charging pattern for the new service, but it is expected to come out in the next three months.

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