Facebook welcomes Chinese regulator to US, even as site remains blocked

Lu Wei, a top Chinese Internet official, met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook is still blocked in China, but its CEO Mark Zuckerberg was happy to welcome a top Chinese Internet regulator to the company's offices, where he again put his Mandarin language skills to use.

Lu Wei, the head of China's Cyberspace Administration, was in the U.S. where he recently visited Facebook's campus, a government-run news site said on Monday.

Zuckerberg spoke with Lu in Mandarin Chinese, putting to work the same language skills that he showed off back in October in a recorded Q&A.

During the visit, Lu also found a book written by Chinese President Xi Jinping called "The Governance of China" on Zuckerberg's office desk. "I've bought this book for my co-workers," Zuckerberg reportedly said. "I want them to understand socialism with Chinese characteristics."

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday, but Zuckerberg has previously said he'd like to bring Facebook to the Chinese masses. Since the site's blocking in 2009, however, the company has instead focused on attracting Chinese merchants to advertise on the social networking site.

The country has never explicitly said why Facebook is blocked, but China routinely censors sites with the potential to spread anti-government content.

Lu has been leading the country's efforts to regulate its Internet, at a time when the government's online censorship has only grown more pervasive. Facebook has long been among the U.S. websites blocked, but in September the country also began cutting access to the Instagram app, also owned by Facebook.

In spite of the blocking, China has signaled that Facebook is welcome to enter the market, as long as it follows the government regulations, which include obeying the country's strict censorship policies.

Back in October, Lu even clarified his stance on Facebook, stating that local media reports had misquoted him when he allegedly said that China would forbid the website's entry into the market.

"The media claimed that I said 'it would be absolutely impossible.' Today, I can tell you that this news is fake," he said.

Lu was in Washington D.C. last week to attend an Internet industry forum on ties between the U.S. and China. During a speech, he mentioned that the two countries should find common ground to promote cooperation, despite policy differences, according to China's state-run media.

Among those differences is China's insistence on respecting a country's own "Internet sovereignty", or the way a government desires to regulate the Internet within its own borders.

Given the country's strict censorship, top U.S. websites including Google and Twitter have refrained from making a big push into the market. But in February, social networking site LinkedIn decided to take the plunge, with a local site that has been following the government's censorship policies.

By May 23, LinkedIn's China site had 5 million members, up from about 4 million a month earlier. China has over 600 million Internet users, and is already the biggest market for PCs and smartphones.

Along with Facebook's Zuckerberg, Lu also met Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos during his visit to the U.S.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags regulationgovernmentinternetFacebook

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?