(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. is so keen to return to China that it built a tool that would geographically censor information in the country, according to the New York Times.
While that may help the Chinese government get comfortable with Facebook, the company’s re-entry may not happen for years, if at all, given licensing restrictions and other regulations that favor locally owned companies. China, which blocked the world’s largest social network in 2009, has few incentives to allow the social network in.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg visits China frequently, and yet the company is no closer to putting employees in a downtown Beijing office it leased in 2014, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company hasn’t been able to get a license to put workers there, even though they would be selling ads shown outside the country, not running a domestic social network, the person said. The ad sales work is currently done in Hong Kong. The person asked not to be identified discussing private matters.
“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement. “However, we have not made any decision on our approach to China. Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform.” The company declined to comment on the New York Times report or its real estate interests.