• Chinese internet giant Baidu is offering emerging Chinese developers a chance to expand their reach to the global market.

Chinese internet giant Baidu is offering emerging Chinese developers a chance to expand their reach to the global market. (Photo : Reuters)

China’s Internet regulator has ordered Baidu to change the method how it ranks medical advertisements based on the fees it charges, as authorities conclude the investigation on the death of a student with cancer, the South China Morning Post reported.

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In response, Baidu vowed to make the necessary changes as it planned to set up a billion-yuan fund to help consumers affected by misleading advertisements on its site.

According to the report, the hospital where the student was treated, a paramilitary hospital in Beijing, also violated laws on outsourcing specialist departments and made false claims in medical advertisements.

Wei Zexi, 21, died after seeking treatment at the No 2 Beijing Armed Police Hospital, which topped his Baidu search. Wei and his family spent about 200,000 yuan (HK$240,000) for the treatment. He received immunotherapy treatment, which doctors said is still in the experimental stage.

The joint investigation into Baidu and the hospital was initiated by health authorities, officials from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce last week.

According to CAC, Wei's treatment has been affected by his choice which was based on Baidu's ranking that allows advertisers to be featured more prominently in search results by paying a fee.

The CAC ordered Baidu to review all medical advertisements and remove medical institutions not qualified by government regulators.

Authorities also urged the search engine company to change its search result model and required it make a different label for sponsored search results.

The company was also required to set up a mechanism where people can seek compensation for losses incurred from misleading advertisement on its site.

Baidu said it would abide by the recommendation to alter its search engine method and establish a compensation fund.

On the other hand, the hospital was ordered by the national health commission and the military's health bureau to sever its partnership with Shanghai Claison Bio-tech, the provider of the experimental cancer treatment.

The hospital was also told to stop similar outsourcing deals with other private contractors. Both the hospital and its private contractors were order to stop advertising.

Chinese authorities also urged the hospital to file charges against the doctors and other violators involved.