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China's Communist Party Paper Aims for Capitalist Milestone

A vendor in Beijing sells copies of the People's Daily, the official organ of the government, featuring the news of leader Deng Xiaoping's death in 1997 (FILE).

People's Daily, the official publication of China's ruling Communist Party, says its website is about to sell shares to outside investors and add new services in order to build itself into an "internationally recognized website."

In an article posted on its website Wednesday, People's Daily says it expects to raise up to $120 million in an initial public offering, an action normally considered a benchmark of capitalist success. It says it will become the first Chinese news website to go public as the nation "accelerates the marketization of state news portals."

The article says there also are plans for plans for nine other government-backed news websites to go public, including those operated by the Xinhua news agency and the national television network.

However, it does not appear that ordinary Chinese people will be able to own a piece of People's Daily.

The website says it plans to bring in "strategic investors" and that talks are already underway with more than 10 such investors, including China Mobile, China Telecom and China Life Insurance.

The article says the public offering is part of China's effort to "convert state-owned enterprises and institutions in the cultural sector into market-oriented players in a bid to improve their operational efficiency."

It says People's Daily plans to expand into wireless value-added services, online video and public opinion survey services in order to boost revenues and build the website into "an international multiple media" outlet.

The website says it earned more than $3 million on revenues of more than $28 million in 2009, mainly from advertising. It estimates its earnings at more than $10 million in 2010 and says that should rise to $15 million in 2011.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.