Update on July 26: The information regarding Facebook’s registration has been taken down from the site. According to media reports, it is because Facebook hasn’t gained solid approval from the Cyberspace Administration of China. Also, Facebook’s Hangzhou subsidiary was set to be an innovation center that aimed to help the tech community and startups, instead of a social network.
Facebook is getting serious about China.
According to Tianyancha, a database that compiles companies’ public information in China, Facebook set up a subsidiary, Facebook Technology (Hangzhou) Limited, in Hangzhou. The subsidiary is 100% owned by Facebook Hong Kong Limit, with funding of $30 million. Facebook applied for the registration on July 18, according to the site.
Zhang Jingmei is general manager of the company and Damian Yao is the president. According to Yao’s LinkedIn page, he joined Facebook in 2014 and is the associate general counsel and head of Asia-Pacific legal at Facebook.
Facebook (Hangzhou) will operate the business in areas such as the technical development of internet information and technology, technology services and consulting.
However, this is still far from Facebook from actually operating in China as it does in other countries. According to China’s regulations, social networks have to apply for certificates to be able to disseminate news and provide video content.
There isn’t an exact counterpart of Facebook in China at the moment, where people registered with real names and share life events or insights to the general public since Tencent’s WeChat is very much a closed social network where users can only see or interact with people they have already known.
There used to be a similar site to Facebook, New York listed-Renren (人人网), which was popular among Chinese young people around 2010, but failed two or three years ago, due to poor operation and increasing competition from WeChat and Weibo. The site was compared to Facebook, when Weibo was and still is compared to Twitter.
China’s social network scene is already crowded, and thus, it’s still a question whether there will be enough space left for Facebook. WeChat has become “the national app”, which is essential in the everyday life of Chinese people, no matter you are communicating or paying your bills. It already achieved 1 billion monthly users as of March 2018. Sina’s Weibo, thought to be Chinese version of Twitter, has 411 million monthly active users.