Facebook has finally entered mainland China, after the registration of a Facebook entity in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province and home of Alibaba, was reportedly approved on July 18.
On Tuesday, a screenshot purporting to be a filing for the entity on China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System website went viral on WeChat and Weibo, before the news crossed over into the English-language realm and was eventually confirmed by a Facebook spokesperson. According to the screenshot, Facebook’s Hong Kong company is listed as the sole shareholder of the new enterprise, while the registered capital is 30 million USD.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been making overtures to China and its ruling officials for some time now, infamously going jogging in heavy smog in Beijing on one visit to the country. Yet the information on his company’s Hangzhou-based subsidiary emerged just as he was playing “the China card” to fend off any potential break-up of his empire.
In an interview with Recode, coincidentally given the same day the registration was approved, Zuckerberg stated:
“If we adopt a stance which is that, okay, we’re going to, as a country, decide that we’re going to clip the wings of these [American] companies and make it so that it’s harder for them to operate in different places or they have to be smaller, then there are plenty of other companies out there that are willing and able to take the place of the work that we’re doing,” he said, specifically suggesting Chinese tech companies as the replacements. “And they do not share the values that we have.”
That apparent lack of shared values doesn’t seem to have stopped him from finally making a foray into the mainland Chinese market however.
As to what the new subsidiary will be doing, a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC:
We are interested in setting up an innovation hub in Zhejiang to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups […] We have done this in several parts of the world — France, Brazil, India, Korea — and our efforts would be focused on training and workshops that help these developers and entrepreneurs to innovate and grow.
What this will mean for Facebook itself in the country remains to be seen. The site has been blocked in mainland China since 2009. The news came shortly after Google doodled its way further back into mainland China, where its search and mail operations have also been blocked for almost a decade. Last year, the Alphabet-backed company also opened a research and innovation center in the country, focused on AI.
Cover photo: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock
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