Although Facebook has been blocked in China for over a decade, the social media giant is on a hunt for an office space in Shanghai that it would use to make hardware. Citing sources, The New York Times reported that the office could also help Facebook with its broader ambitions in China. Facebook’s plans are tentative and would depend on approval from the Chinese government. Also Read - WhatsApp violates Indian users' rights by denying dispute resolution claims CentreAlso Read - Facebook to pay French news publishers for using its content
“We have long said that we are interested in China and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. Facebook’s new hardware initiatives would require plugging into China’s electronics supply chain, which helps build some of the world’s most popular gadgets like Apple’s iPhone. The office would first be used by the employees of Facebook’s hardware effort called Building 8.
In 2015, Facebook obtained a license to open an office in Beijing but the permit lasted only three months and it could not establish a space in that time. Oculus, the virtual reality company Facebook bought three years ago, already has an office in Shanghai. At the moment, Facebook uses third parties and its own employees to sell ads in China. ALSO READ: Facebook bids $600 million to livestream IPL matches
Facebook employees run special security software on devices when they travel in China and do not have access to secretive or critical business information — all due to cyber security concerns. China is a large market for Facebook because it has the world’s largest population of online users. ALSO READ: Skype videos teach human reactions to Facebook AI
Earlier this year, Facebook released a Chinese version of its Moments photo-managing app through a small local company. Facebook has been selling advertisements to the Chinese companies hoping to reach the rest of the world. The Chinese ad sales, supported from its office in Hong Kong, are some of the largest in Asia, the report added.