Facebook wants to open an office in China by 2015

Social network remains hopeful of business in China despite website ban

Facebook key

Facebook is hoping to open a sales office in China in order to work with local advertisers, despite the social network being censored in the country.

The plan is to have a physical presence in China by 2015 so the social network can serve a growing set of customers. Facebook is aiming to get some space in Beijing's Fortune Financial Center, located in the centre of the city's business district.

China remains a market relatively untouched by Facebook, with the social network being banned by the Chinese government in 2009. That hasn't stopped the Menlo Park company from setting up in Hong Kong, where it has been steadily building a business in selling ad space.

"Today, our sales team in Hong Kong is supporting Chinese businesses, but because of the rapid growth these businesses are achieving by using Facebook, we are of course exploring ways that we can provide even more support locally and may consider having a sales office in China in the future," Facebook vice president Vaughan Smith told Bloomberg.

China has always been a tough market for tech firms. Ebay and Yahoo, among others, have little impact in the market, while Google shut down its localised search page due to censorship rules. Twitter and LinkedIn are also blocked by the Chinese government.

In the absence of Western social media, Chinese alternatives have sprung up to replace them. Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, has more than 129 million monthly users. Alibaba, meanwhile, controls the e-commerce and cloud computing business, selling more items online than Amazon and Ebay combined.

Previously Facebook said that "substantial legal and regulatory complexities" had stopped it from making another attempted entry to the Chinese market.

The company made $354 million in Asia during the first quarter of 2014, up from $118 million in May 2012.

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