Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) could be the latest Western company to eye a move into China as offering promise for major expansion, although the company states that it isn’t. CEO Dick Costolo is scheduled to meet with Chinese officials in Shanghai. If the micro-blogging company is able to move into the Chinese market successfully, then it would have the opportunity to tap into its 600 million Internet users.
Twitter blocked in China
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) has been blocked in China since 2009. Reuters reports that Costolo will spend three days in Shanghai after landing At Pudong International Airport today. He isn’t scheduled to visit China’s capital of Beijing, although he will meet with officials from the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. The zone was established last year in order to test the liberalization of various markets, like loosening rules about currency conversion and foreign direct investments.
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However, officials have reportedly denied reports that the blocking of Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and other Internet censorship will be loosened there.
Facebook’s Zuckerberg visits China often
Unlike Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Costolo has never visited China. Zuckerberg visits China on a regular basis and has already expressed interest in bringing access to the social network into the country. He has said that it will help fulfill his vision of bringing the entire world online.
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) management has continued to downplay any likelihood of their seeking a license to do business in China, However.
Costolo to grease the wheels for Twitter?
Many other Western Internet companies, including Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) have been blocked in China. As a result, getting access to Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) opened there will likely be a big challenge, and one that probably won’t be solved anytime soon. Google specifically pulled out of China because of the government’s censorship of the Internet.
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) prides itself on offering freedom of speech, which would clash with the Chinese government’s censorship policies. Management did not say what Costolo would be talking about with Chinese government officials. They simply said that he is visiting the country “because he wants to learn more about Chinese culture and the country’s thriving technology sector.” They described it also as a personal tour for the company’s CEO, who will also be meeting with students and academics at Fudan University while in Shanghai.
He isn’t expected to ask officials to lift the ban on Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), which has stated that it will not open an office in China anytime soon.