Facebook Getting Ready to Dip on China

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A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo
A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo REUTERS

Despite the service blocks, social networking giant Facebook is getting ready to take a dip into the mainland China. This move has been part of the company's long-term strategy to boost sales in the territory.

Bloomberg News reported Facebook is working on leasing a unit at the Fortune Financial Center in Beijing Central Business District, but it may take a year to realize this target. The social networking giant has not yet confirmed the speculations but recent moves of the company hinted its expansion. Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg traveled several times to China while the new Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also flew to the country in September the previous year.

Facebook also has a sales office in Hong Kong and has already used the site to sell advertisements to Chinese customers, according to Forbes Magazine.

Facebook Vice-President Vaughan Smith released an email to Bloomberg saying, "Today, our sales team in Hong Kong is supporting these Chinese businesses, but because of the rapid growth these businesses are achieving by using Facebook, we are of course exploring ways that we can provide even more support locally and may consider having a sales office in China in the future."

But there is no news yet whether the social networking site will hire full-time employees or contractors in the China sales office as this will need an operating license.

Facebook's move to set up a China sales office will be a giant leap for the company in a country that does not use Facebook yet. The Chinese government has banned its constituents from using the services of the social networking site in 2009.  Since then, the so-called Great Wall of China has been passed through by thousands of people who used a software to access the social networking site.

Shaun Rein, managing director at China Market Research Group in Shanghai, debunked the speculations citing there will be no access to Facebook anytime soon.

"The government is still quite concerned about social instability," she said.

Facebook is not the only company who has been eyeing on the largely untapped market in China. Google Inc., exited in the country in 2010 over the online censorship policies imposed, which the search giant was not willing to comply. Other U.S.-based Internet companies like eBay Inc., Yahoo! Inc., Twitter Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. have also made little progress to China.

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