Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave his first real speech in a foreign language, for which he chose Chinese. Last year, Zuckerberg communicated briefly with Chinese colleagues in Mandarin.
Facebook to grow beyond boundaries
At Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University on Saturday, the Facebook CEO gave a full 22-minute speech in Chinese, speaking about his company’s mission. Zuckerberg was appointed to the advisory board of Tsinghua’s School of Economics and Management
“I just gave my first-ever speech in Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing—on why you need a strong sense of mission to change the world,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “I want to connect people,” he said, “And when I look at Chinese companies like Alibaba and Xiaomi, I see the same story.”
Zuckerberg also talked of his vision in growing Facebook’s business outside America. He told attendees that there are concerns that his company might only work to connect people in the U.S., but this is wrong and Facebook will keep growing and expand to more countries. The audience lauded Zuckerberg with big applause when he used a Chinese proverb on how the hard work can “grind an iron pestle into a needle.”
The Facebook CEO also mentioned Alibaba founder Jack Ma in his speech, saying, “Jack Ma has a great quote which I like a lot: Compared with 15 years ago, we are big; compared with 15 years from now, we are still a baby,” he said.
Big improvement from last year
Though he spoke Chinese without any transcript, Zuckerberg was dressed in his usual similar-style gray T-shirt. Though his speech did have frequent pauses and grammatical mistakes, it certainly has improved from last year when he was only able to talk on general topics such as family and Chinese kung fu movie stars. Chinese Internet users were all praising Zuckerberg for his speech in Chinese. His foreign language skills have also helped him in winning the attention of top Chinese officials.
In September during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with U.S. and Chinese tech executives in Seattle, Zuckerberg talked to the president in Chinese. Chinese entrepreneur Zhou Hongyi, who was present at the meeting, said Zuckerberg got more time with the president than the other U.S. entrepreneurs.
“This was the first time I’ve ever spoken with a world leader entirely in a foreign language,” he said on his Facebook page after the meet.