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Despite Strict Censorship, Innovation Hub To Be Launched In China By Facebook

Despite Strict Censorship, Innovation Hub To Be Launched In China By Facebook
Facebook announced on Tuesday that it would set up a “innovation hub” in China through a subsidiary that it has already created in the country which would be geared to provide support local start-ups and developers. This is an attempt by the largest social media platform in the world to increase its presence in a country that has very restrictive internet policies and a market where its platform is still banned.
According to a filing that has been approved on China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System last week, the home city of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd – Hangzhou, is the place where the new subsidiary of Facebook is registered.
“We are interested in setting up an innovation hub in Zhejiang to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups,” a Facebook representative told the media through email in reference to the location of the Chinese province that includes Hangzhou. Similar hubs in France, Brazil, India and Korea have been created by Facebook with the aim of training and workshops, said the spokesperson.
China has a policy of strict censoring and monitoring of foreign news outlets, search engines and social media and the websites of Western online companies such as Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.
The company further said that its approach to the country and the Chinese market is not being changed by it which could be signaled by the setting up of the subsidiary company in China. The company is still in the process of learning what it takes to be in China.
In the run up to the country’s twice-a-decade congress, WhatsApp - the social messaging app of Facebook was blocked in China and since then the services have largely been unavailable.
Only one shareholder of the new entity - Facebook Hongkong Ltd, was mentioned in the filing of the listing.
U.S. tech companies whose content have been blocked in China are on continuously on the lookout of ways to enter the market without raising any concerns from the country’s regulators despite the fact that measures of control and censorship controls on foreign content have been made stricter under the leadership of Xi Jinping who became the president of the country in 2013 and had been re-elected again.
There are hundreds of employees off Google in China and the company has recently launched a new lab in the country for research into artificial intelligence (AI). And in recent months, a number of apps for the local Chinese market have bene tentatively launched by it which includes an AI drawing game and file management app which would be available on the popular Chinese app WeChat.
Last year, very significant modifications in its stores were made by Apple Inc. in an effort to conform to Chinese censorship restrictions. In this process the company has removed hundreds of apps at the request of regulators.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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