After years of being banned in China, Facebook has obtained a license to open a subsidiary office. The platform itself remains censored for most residents.
It is a major breakthrough. No, the people of China will still not have access to its platform but this will be the first time that Facebook gets its name in the country after getting banned in 2009.
The new office will be located in the city of Hangzhou and be officially called Facebook Technology. The subsidiary will be wholly owned by Facebook Hong Kong Limited, a local sales office in Hong Kong which is not subject to the censorship of the mainland. Hangzhou was not a random choice, as the city already hosts the headquarters of Internet giant Alibaba.
In Hangzhou, Facebook will operate a startup incubator that will invest in, and advise local businesses.
While this means nothing to most Chinese Internet users who will still not be able to access Facebook, it is a step in the right direction. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently reaffirmed the company’s interest in pursuing business in China, despite still being blocked as a platform: “I think it’s hard to have a mission of wanting to bring the whole world closer together and leave out the biggest country.”