China might finally allow Facebook to enter its country. Facebook has long been blocked in the country, but many people believe that this may change in the near future, as Chinese president Xi Jinping allowed a picture featuring him and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be shown on Chinese social networking websites.
Researcher from the China Institute of International Studies Teng Jianqun said, “The picture suggests Xi is willing to accept Facebook or allow the social networking site to operate in China. The Chinese government has no more reason to restrict social networking websites’ access to China since Xi met Zuckerberg in person.”
It is still not known when Facebook will enter China. That is, if it even happens in the first place. However, because of China’s massive population, the number of Facebook users would be expected to dramatically increase should the country permit the social networking giant.
Zuckerberg and president Xi met in Seattle, along with several other technology leaders of the United States. Their entire conversation was in Mandarin Chinese. Zuckerberg has stated in the past that learning Chinese has placed him more favorably in the eyes of Chinese leaders. Zuckerberg previously held a full discussion at Beijing’s Tsinghua University in Mandarin.
Facebook has over 968 million users as of June this year. China has blocked the social networking website since 2009. Twitter and YouTube have also been blocked. The country maintains clones of these popular websites, each equipped with the measures of censorship one would expect from China.
Director of State Internet Information Lu Wei previously said that foreign internet companies would be required to abide by China’s laws and regulations in order to be allowed into China. Additionally, they can only represent a small portion of the Chinese market share, and they cannot be deemed to hurt the national interests of the country. Plus, they could be shut down by the Chinese government at any time.
Basically, if Facebook wants to enter China, it will have to do so by their rules.