Facebook Inc. is reportedly taking steps to open a sales office in China which, unless you’ve been living under a rock or behind a VPN sincs 2009, should come as something of a surprise considering that the company’s website is blocked by China’s Great Firewall.
According to Bloomberg, Facebook is seeking to open a “sales office” in the country, likely in Beijing, which would seek to help Chinese companies use Facebook to advertise overseas. There have been no concrete signs that the Chinese government plans to unblock Facebook anytime soon, but a sales office could allow the company to have a business foothold in the country without riling the censors.
As TechInAsia reports, Facebook has to be extremely cautious while meandering in China, as any moves that appear to subvert China’s censorship apparatus will surely be met with trouble:
Although it’s being used for business and not social purposes, Facebook still indirectly encourages Chinese citizens to bypass censorship measures put in place by the government. The company will have to walk a fine line to avoid Beijing’s ire in this regard.
The company hasn’t confirmed a timeline or location for the new office, although Bloomberg reports it’s preparing to lease office space in Beijing’s central business district. The move could be a preemptive stepping stone for Facebook’s grander plans. As China gradually opens up to the world, there’s always a chance for the Great Firewall to be knocked down, however slim, and Facebook will be in on the ground floor, ready to strike.
When hell freezes over, and the Communist Party lovingly embraces social media, Zuckerberg and Co. will be ready to strike.
Shaun Rein on why Facebook would want a China sales office:
[Image via JoelBuckland]