from Asia Unbound

Journey to the East: Why Facebook Won’t Make it in China

Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (L) talks with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during a gathering of tech executives at Microsoft's main campus, September 23, 2015. (Ted S. Warren/Reuters)

April 5, 2016

Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (L) talks with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during a gathering of tech executives at Microsoft's main campus, September 23, 2015. (Ted S. Warren/Reuters)
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Lincoln Davidson is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ever since Facebook was banned in China following riots in Xinjiang Province, China, in summer 2009, there has been speculation that the company is trying to regain access to the market, fueled by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts to build connections with the Chinese government and business community. Most recently, Zuckerberg made a highly-publicized visit to China last month, meeting with Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Chinese Communist Party propaganda chief Liu Yunshan. But despite Zuckerberg’s efforts, Facebook isn’t likely to be successful in the Chinese market, even if the government unblocks it. It’s not clear that Chinese consumers even want the product Facebook has to offer, and U.S. tech firms have had a particularly difficult time making it in the Chinese market. For a deeper dig into the challenges Facebook is likely to face, check out my blog post on Net Politics.

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