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China's Tech Giants Quietly Grow off Beijing's Internet Controls

Be warned that Big Brother's keen electronic eye can give most of his Chinese content providers a limited edge in the financial markets.

The country's Internet content providers are geared toward Chinese tastes and audiences. Granted, that's a user base of more than half a billion people. But most providers are not tooled to go places globally the way Google and Yahoo can, ensuring customer diversity normally key to business survival.

Like successful firms in industries across China, Internet content providers also face competition from a growing crowd of newer, me-too ICPs.

But some clearly stand out. Twelve-year-old Baidu, for example, has gone past China with services in Arabic and Thai, plus a subsidiary in Japan. It opened a Singapore research center this to help extend its search engine and other Web services to Southeast Asia.

Tencent, started in 1999, bought a stake in U.S.-based Epic Games in June and already runs a version in English, among other languages, of its QQ instant messaging service.

No immediate need to censor their stocks from your portfolio.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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