Facebook is making sincere efforts and is hitting all the right notes so as to tap the Chinese market, which has huge growth potential to offer. But it is facing a really tough battle, said David Chao, co-founder and general partner of DCM Ventures.
Why is China not accepting Facebook?
On Monday speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Alley, Chao said, “I think that Facebook’s in a Catch-22. On the one hand, they have been touted by the U.S. media and government that it’s a pro-democracy tool, like you’ve seen in the Arab Spring.”
Chao believes that as long as the U.S. media keeps making social media more of a “Trojan horse” for democracy, it will continue to get tougher and tougher.
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In the past ten years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited China several times, and his most recent meeting was with Liu Yunshan, China’s propaganda chief. Speaking to Zuckerberg, Yunshan said that he hopes the U.S. firm can share its experience with Chinese companies to help “Internet development better benefit the people of all countries,” reported China’s official Xinhua News Agency.
Facebook’s CEO attended a meeting with the propaganda czar on Saturday. Zuckerberg was on a trip to Beijing over the weekend for an economic conference where he continued his China charm campaign. The seven-man Politburo Standing Committee rules China, and more than anyone who sits on it, Liu decides what the Chinese should think, read and experience through media.
To survive, U.S. firms will have to follow local rules
China has imposed bans on Facebook and other Western social media, including Twitter. China has the most Internet users in the world – 668 million as of last year – and for this reason, Zuckerberg has been courting the nation’s leaders to get access the country, but all his efforts have been futile so far. However, it must be noted that Facebook has been much more flexible about working with other governments, unlike how Google has been with China on its filtering issues, noted Chao.
It is not that social media is not happening in China, but rather, it is not happening in the way it happens in the U.S., said GGV Managing Partner Jeff Richards in the same interview. The expert noted that Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, which has over half a billion monthly active users, abide by the government’s rules and regulations.