A Facebook post… in China?

Facebook is said to be preparing to open its first office in China, where the world’s largest social network remains officially banned.

The Silicon Valley company has had an office in Hong Kong where it sells ads, but it’s looking to lease a space on the mainland, in Beijing’s central business district, according to Bloomberg. The sales office would help Facebook serve local advertisers, the report says.

Facebook’s interest in China is obvious; COO Sheryl Sandberg visited last year as part of her “Lean In” book tour, but she also met with government officials, as our own Brandon Bailey wrote.

U.S. tech companies have had a tough time in China, home to a huge, mostly untapped market but also to tight government control and censorship. For example, Google, which enjoys search dominance in many other parts of the world, has largely given up there after years of censorship battles with the Chinese government. The company also has accused China of hacking into Gmail.

But there have been some changes as China tries to attract foreign investment. As we wrote in the fall, Facebook, Twitter and other sites are now officially A-OK in Shanghai’s free-trade zone. Also earlier this year, LinkedIn — the professional social network has had a presence in China for the past few years — announced a Chinese-language website there.

Could a Facebook ad-sales office in China lead to further expansion there? “The government is still quite concerned about social instability,” Shaun Rein, managing director at China Market Research Group in Shanghai, told Bloomberg. “I don’t think you are going to see any access for Facebook anytime soon.”


Photo from Reuters archives


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  • Dave

    How ironic. Facebook with an office in China where social media is banned. I was recently in China and you can’t even update your Kindle app there. What does Zuck think he can do to change the government’s position? Bribery? I don’t think Facebook would be a big success in China since they already have ways to stay connected.

    • JohnGang

      Social media is not banned in China. Only Facebook is. And if you bother spending two minutes on playing with your network settings you can get that to work too.

      • Dave

        Hmm, I’m not so sure about that at least with respect to my mobile carrier China Mobile. Maybe it can be tweaked in wifi but I don’t think you can use your smartphone to use Google+, Twitter, or any other social media outlets on a data connection. You can’t download Amazon Kindle either on China Mobile.

        • JohnGang

          It doesn’t matter. You probably simply don’t know how to do that. Download any VPN app on your Android. 😉

          And what about Weibo, QQ and other Chinese social media apps? Or Russian ones such as VKontakte? You can’t use them either or are you only referring to Western social media?

          • Dave

            I was mainly focusing on the official viewpoint of the Chinese government.I use QQ all the time but I’ve never really consider that a social media platform.I realize that there are other social media platforms in China as well.the fact that you have to use a virtual private network in order to establish a connection with a social media website does raise some concern for me.I guess this was sort of my point about the whole discussion.anyway I live part time throughout the year in Wuhan and I know what I know and I see what I see.

          • JohnGang

            Dave, you don’t have to use VPN to use Chinese (or, in fact, most other) social media apps in China. They work fine without any tweaking of setting whatsoever. You only need that for Facebook and Twitter i.e. two popular social media networks in Europe and North America.

            The reason I am pointing this out is because from your writing it seemed as if you were either referring to ALL social media (including Chinese or, say, Korean or Russian) or that you only regard Western Social media as ‘Social media’. In both cases it would be a misleading and incorrect statement.