China launched its first Tibetan-language search engine which will serve as a unified portal for all the Tibetan-language websites.
The search engine will serve as a unified portal for all major Tibetan-language websites in China, Tselo, director of the Tibetan Language Work Committee of the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai said.
Yongzin means "master" or "teacher" in the Tibetan language. It will also be a major global source for information in Tibetan online, he said.
The search engine has eight sections for news, websites, images, videos, music, encyclopedia, literature and forums, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
"The search engine will meet the growing needs of the Tibetan-speaking population and facilitate the building of Tibetan digital archives and the expansion of databases in the Tibetan language," he said.
The project, which costs 57 million yuan (about USD 8.7 million), is supported by the government. The work began on the project in April 2013.
More than 150 people were hired for the project, said Dora, technical director of the search engine and a professor with the Digitisation Institute of Tibetan Literature of Northwest University for Nationalities.
People of Tibetan ethnicity make up 80 per cent of the team, Dora said.
"Popular search engines such as Yahoo and Google enable searches in Tibetan, but they mainly support searching with single characters," he said.
Yongzin.com enables searches using words and phrases to yield more accurate results, he said. Yongzin also leads to more web resources than its competitors, said Dora.
"For example, the news function leads to more than 200 domestic Tibetan-language websites in China," he said. It is expected to gain around 1.2 million users in its initial stage, Dora said.
Contents are also categorised according to different local dialects such as Amdo, Kamba and U-Tsang, he said.