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Facebook sets up China subsidiary

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Facebook are closing in on 2 billion users. (image:
Facebook are closing in on 2 billion users.

Facebook has set up a subsidiary in China with registered capital of $30 million, according to an official business registration, hinting that the U.S. firm may be ramping up its presence in the restrictive market where its social media sites remain blocked.

The filing listed Facebook HongKong Ltd and no other entities as a shareholder. Facebook’s application for the subsidiary was approved on July 18, according to a filing seen by Reuters on 24 July, but it was not clear when the filing was published.

Zhang Jinghai is named as the new company’s legal representative, while David Kling and Susan Taylor are listed as directors.

Kling is a Facebook vice president, while Taylor is the internet giant’s chief accountant, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Zhang holds the same role at the company behind Facebook’s sneaky launch last year of a photo-sharing app for China called Colorful Balloons, which recreated Facebook’s Moments app.

The app never took off, marking another setback in China for Facebook. It has strived to breach the “Great Firewall” — which tightly controls China’s internet content — ever since its flagship social media platform was banned by Beijing in 2009.

Facebook chief executive and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has made several high-profile visits to China, once going as far as taking a photogenic jog through central Beijing while the city choked on smog.

He has attempted to cosy up to Beijing politicians as well, reportedly asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to provide a Chinese name for his daughter. Xi declined.

Despite the efforts, Zuckerberg has been unable to get Facebook unblocked in China. It remained inaccessible Tuesday in Beijing.

While censorship controls have hardened under Xi Jinping, who was formally appointed president in 2013, U.S. tech firms with blocked content are increasingly looking for new ways to enter the market without drawing the ire of regulators.

Google has several hundred staff in China, and recently launched its own artificial intelligence (AI) lab. It has also tentatively launched several apps for the Chinese market in recent months, including an AI drawing game and file management app.

The new Facebook subsidiary, registered in the eastern city of Hangzhou, will engage in the development of network IT, technology services and consulting, among other services, the corporate filing showed.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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