Chinese internet giant Baidu announced a 169 percent jump in annual net income Wednesday, in a positive sign for the country's technology sector as broader economic turbulence persists.

Following years of ballooning growth, China's leading tech firms have faced unprecedented challenges more recently, as authorities pursue greater regulatory oversight.

The crackdown has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in market capitalisation since 2020, dragging down the profitability of domestic internet giants.

But as post-pandemic recovery in the world's second-largest economy stalls, authorities now appear to be taking a more conciliatory approach to the tech sector as a key source of growth and employment.

Baidu -- one of the country's leading tech firms -- reported net income totalling 20.315 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) for the year 2023.

The figure represents an increase of 169 percent year on year.

The strong growth is partly explained by its comparison with a low base in the 2022 financial year, when Baidu notched a 26 percent on-year decline in annual net income.

In a less positive sign, Baidu's fourth-quarter net income last year came in at just under 2.6 billion yuan ($361 million), down 48 percent from the same period in 2022.

The Beijing-based firm operates China's leading search engine and derives a large part of its revenue from advertising.

It faces increasingly formidable competition from domestic rivals including Tencent, the operator of ubiquitous messaging platform WeChat, and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.

Baidu has poured investment into artificial intelligence, developing chatbot Ernie -- equivalent to ChatGPT, which is blocked in China.

The firm has also expanded operations in the growing autonomous vehicle sector, with fleets of driverless taxis in Beijing and other cities across the country.