London, June 25 :

Ambassadors from across Europe will attend a cocktail dinner in Paris this week heralding the launch of the continent’s first dedicated web search engine, aiming to take on giants such as Google and Yahoo! But it is Accoona.eu’s roots in China which are likely to attract the scrutiny of human rights campaigners.

Accoona was co-founded by the Chinese government and is part owned by the China Daily Information Company, a Chinese government agency. Government restrictions on web searches and freedom of speech, in China and elsewhere, have been put in the spotlight by irrepressible.info, a campaign lau-nched last month by Amnesty International which has so far attracted more than 23,000 supporters around the world. Last week the UK’s Liberal Democrats became the first political party to endorse it.

Like other search engines, Accoona’s Chinese site is subject to the censorship of politically sensitive material.