Reuters Summit-Facebook looks at China, Zuckerberg packs bags

Thu May 19, 2011 9:06pm BST

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(For other news from Reuters Global Technology Summit, click here)

By Alexei Oreskovic and Jennifer Saba

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is planning to make his second visit to China as the world's No. 1 social networking company looks for the best way to expand into that country.

"Our company mission is really clear, which is we want to connect the whole world," said Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg at the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Thursday. "And it's impossible to think about connecting the whole world right now without also connecting China."

China, the world's largest Internet market by users, represents an attractive frontier for Facebook, which is blocked there. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited China in December and met with the heads of Chinese Internet companies including Baidu Inc (BIDU.O), Sina Corp and Alibaba Corp.

But China, where the government exercises tight control over online information, has proven hard to crack for Western Internet companies. Last year Google Inc (GOOG.O) partially withdrew from China following a spat over online censorship and cyber attacks that Google said originated in China.

"Despite what you may have read, Mark and I actually really agree on the importance of China," Sandberg said.

Sandberg said the timing and the agenda of Zuckerberg's return trip to China was undetermined, but that the 27-year-old Facebook co-founder, who is studying Chinese, would probably return this year.

"We don't know exactly what he'd do, but certainly engagement is really important. Plus, Mark really likes tech entrepreneurs," she said. "He likes meeting with them always, everywhere he goes."

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Robert MacMillan)

(For more from the summit, see [ID:nN13240922])

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