Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) may have the Chinese search market all but locked up, but that's apparently not enough.

The dot-com darling is setting up a research center in Singapore to help it ramp up its online offerings throughout Southeast Asia.

Teaming up with Singapore's Agency for Science and Technology Research on the facility is an "important step in Baidu's commitment to enhance its products" outside of China, Baidu told Bloomberg in an emailed statement.

Baidu's global aspirations aren't new.

It revealed plans for an office in Shenzhen last month that would target international expansion, but that southern China presence won't be complete for another three years. Baidu can't afford to wait that long.

There's nothing wrong with thinking outside of your home country. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is living proof, as it's the top dog through most of the world. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) -- despite its shortcomings closer to home -- is actually huge in Japan through its Yahoo! Japan initiative with Softbank.

Even Russia's Yandex (Nasdaq: YNDX) has been able to parlay strength on its home turf into a reasonable presence in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.

Baidu is already active in some markets. It rolled into Japan in 2008. Late last year it rolled out service in Arabic and Thai.

The new research center in Singapore will initially focus on technologies for services in Thai and Vietnamese, but it can always expand from there.

Baidu doesn't need to be a globetrotter. There are plenty of opportunities closer to home. Revenue in Baidu's latest quarter soared 83%, so clearly it's not as if the opportunities for heady growth in the world's most populous nation have been exhausted. The country is still early in its cyberspace migration.

However, it's also never too soon to begin thinking about exporting something that's working locally.

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