Yahoo posts Tibet 'Most Wanted'

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NEW YORK – Yahoo's China homepage on Friday ran a "Most Wanted" poster offering rewards to Web users willing to help track down Tibetans Beijing accuses of inciting recent riots in Lhasa protesting Chinese rule.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based and Nasdaq-listed Yahoo owns 40% of the privately held e-commerce Alibaba Group, which, in turn, owns and operates Yahoo China.

"The Chinese police have issued a warrant for the arrest of suspected rioters in Tibet," read the item on Yahoo's China homepage.

Similar items also ran on Chinese web portals Sina.com and news.qq.com, and inside MSN China's site, according to French Web site the Observers, a Web site based on user-generated content operated by Paris-based TV news channel France 24.

The Yahoo China item ran with fuzzy photos of men, allegedly Tibetan, taken during the deadly riots, the worst in 20 years.

The item, which was posted sometime before 3 p.m. Friday in China, was removed from Yahoo China's home page soon after 7 p.m., after the Observers sent out an e-mail bulletin about it.

Yahoo has been under fire for its practices in China since it was found to have helped the Chinese police in their pursuit of jailed journalist Shi Tao, who had an e-mail account with Yahoo. Shi was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005 for "divulging state secrets."

After that case, it also was found that Yahoo had provided evidence against at least three other Chinese dissidents.

Following the allegations, Yahoo told the U.S. Congress that its China operations were controlled by Alibaba, with which it partnered in 2005. Alibaba was founded in 1999 by Chinese Internet entrepreneur Jack Ma in Hangzhou, China, southwest of Shanghai.

Yahoo trails local search engine Baidu.com and Google in the Chinese Web market.

With more than 210 million Web users, China has the largest online population in the world, surpassing the U.S. online population this month, according to Beijing-based media research firm BDA, which bases its claim on data from the state-owned China Internet Network Information Center.

Chinese authorities also have blocked access to Google-owned YouTube since protests in Tibet began on March 10, on the 49th anniversary of an uprising against Chinese rule.

Chinese authorities have stepped up vigilant checks of Internet content they deem a challenge to Beijing's hold on power in the months approaching the Summer Olympics, due to start in the Chinese capital in August.
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