According to an AFX story the engine was developed internally and will retrieve both Chinese and English language material.
Additional details in this news release.
If you visit the iAsk home page, you'll spot a set of graphical icons located directly above the search box that point to various iAsk services. If you mouseover these icons you should see them expand. I wonder if iAsk is paying homage to the short-lived "Google X" tool or just to Mac OS X? (-:
It's also interesting that Sina decided to use iAsk as its English name. It sure sounds very similar to another search engine based in Oakland, CA. Of course, Mr. Jeeves might be changing his name soon. Sina is a publicly traded company in the U.S. In fact, both Sina and Ask Jeeves are traded on the NASDAQ.