HONG KONG, China -- As unrest, fueled in part by Facebook, spreads across the Middle East and North Africa, the largest social network has been quietly laying the foundation for a future move into China.
This month, Facebook opened a Hong Kong sales office in China's special administrative region (SAR), its second in Asia. This follows the opening of a Singapore office last summer. It already has over 3 million users in Hong Kong.
Facebook made the low key announcement during Hong Kong Social Media Week to a small group of local journalists: "We are excited about being a big part of the Asian market, in general."
When asked specifically about the company's China strategy, Blake Chandlee, Vice President and Commercial Director, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Emerging Markets said "there are a lot of reason I do and don't want to talk about China."
The Chinese government currently blocks Facebook, along with Twitter and YouTube, making it inaccessible to over 420 million internet users. That's only a fraction of China's 1.3 billion population and statistics show explosive growth online over the next few years as more Chinese get on the net.
Experts say after Google's very public departure in 2010 and the subsequent political fallout it caused, Facebook has been staying away from both Hong Kong and Mainland China, so as not to offend Beijing.