Ever since Mark Zuckerberg paid a visit to China last year December, everyone starts to look out his plans of bringing the social media giant, Facebook, to China. Recently, there are BIG rumors saying that Facebook is planning to enter China through major partnership(s).
Before getting any deeper, we have to remind you that Facebook is blocked in China.
Okay, starting off with the first rumor, according to a tweet post by Hu Yanping, founder of Beijing-based market research firm Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI), Facebook has signed an official contract with a local Chinese Internet company to build a new social networking website in China. Here’s what he tweeted on his Sina Microblog,
Here’s his message in English:
“Facebook really is about to enter China, the agreement is officially signed. A domestic website will work with Facebook to create a new site. This new site is not interlinked with Facebook.com. Will it be Facebook in the future?” [Note: The last bit plays on an unofficial transliteration of Facebook's name into Chinese: "Fa-ce-boo-k" = "非死不可" = "Must die"]
Hu’s message has attracted all of his followers (469,000) on Sina Weibo. Since Hu is a respected Internet business analyst in China, and he was the first to break the news about Google’s pullout from China last year, everyone believes his words. However, here’s a question, who’s the “local Chinese Internet company”?
Editor’s Note: Multiple industry sources have revealed to Marbridge that online search giant Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) is the “local Chinese Internet company” that will be working with Facebook and operating the new SNS website in China. In mid-February it was rumored that Baidu’s top management had visited Facebook’s headquarters in Silicon Valley (see “Rumor: Baidu Visits Facebook in Silicon Valley,” MD 2/18/11 issue.)
Is this true? Well, there’s a high chance for that. During Mark Zuckerberg’s trip to China, he was first spotted at the head offices of Baidu in Beijing. Yeah, he had a meet with Robin Li, the billionaire co-founder of Baidu, and this is not surprising since they have known each other for a while. However, no one knows what their secret meeting was about.
Next, well-experienced China Internet watcher Bill Bishop added that Alibaba, Sohu and China Mobile were other possible partners. We were wondering if Sina, the largest Chinese-language infotainment web portal, has a chance for that, since Mark Zuckerberg also made a visit to Sina headquarters during his China tour. However, Bill proved Sina is not in the list, by tweeting the message below:
“Hu Yanping just replied 2 me on weibo that alleged Facebook China JV partner is NOT Sina $sina..wonder if rumors yesterday popped Sina $6?”
You may ask, so who’s the one would be partnering with Facebook to create a new social networking platform? Well, Sina has their own social networking site, Sina Weibo, so there’s no need for them to team up with Facebook to create another one. As for Baidu, the company has been unable to execute a successful social networking site, and maybe they will build one with Facebook’s help. While we are still guessing, Bloomberg now reports that Facebook is in exploratory talks with unnamed partners, but that nothing has been signed yet.
The only thing we could confirm is that Facebook has something going on in China now. We all know that China is the largest Internet market by users, but popular Western websites such as Twitter, Facebook, are blocked by the Great Firewall. The Chinese government just do not wish their citizens to get connected with the whole world. However, Mark Zuckerberg will not give up the huge market of China since he aims to connect the world. It’s exciting to see Facebook formulating a strategy to help it regain a presence in China, and by partnering up with China’s leading IT tech companies, Facebook gets a good opportunity to enter China. However, they must be ready to face the censorship problem in China, and not ending up like Google.
P.S. Facebook registered the domain name Facebook.cn in 2007.
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