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The ambition of China’s ‘son-in-law’ Zuckerberg


In terms of publicity, it was a great weekend for Mark Zuckerberg in China.

从媒体曝光的角度来说,马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)在中国度过了一个愉快的周末。

Mr. Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, returned to Beijing for yet another trip that drew local headlines and captivated online China. He wrote a post that went viral about a jog through Tiananmen Square; held a widely covered conversation with China's best-known entrepreneur, Jack Ma of Alibaba; and on Saturday met with one of the most powerful men in China, Liu Yunshan, the country's propaganda chief.


It followed previous trips in which Mr. Zuckerberg impressed Chinese audiences with his rookie Chinese language skills and spoke about his fascination with the country. Even at times while he was outside China, he met with China's president, Xi Jinping; told a Chinese official he was reading a book of Mr. Xi's words and gave his newborn daughter, Max, a Chinese name. (It is Chen Mingyu.)


The visits have cemented his place as one of the best-known foreign business executives in China. But it is far from clear whether his charm offensive will unlock Mr. Zuckerberg's ultimate goal: persuading the Chinese government to lift its ban on the social media service and open it to the country's almost 700 million Internet users.


Courting Chinese leaders in such a public fashion is an unusual strategy for a foreign executive. With star power comes influence, and any clout not directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party can be deemed dangerous. China demonstrated this last month, when a widely read social media account of a prominent real estate tycoon disappeared after he criticized Mr. Xi's call for unswerving loyalty from the country's media.


The few American technology firms that have entered China in recent years have played down their efforts. Though Travis Kalanick, a founder of Uber, frequently travels to China, news of his presence rarely spreads across the Chinese Internet. There was almost no fanfare in advance of LinkedIn's deal with two closely connected Chinese venture capital shops to enter China, an event that was marked with a blog post.

最近几年进入中国的少数几家美国科技企业都没有极力宣扬自己的行动。尽管优步(Uber)创始人特拉维斯·卡兰尼克(Travis Kalanick)频繁访华,但有关他的新闻甚少在中国的网络上传播。领英(LinkedIn)只用博客文章的形式,宣布与两家关系紧密的中国风投公司签署协议进入中国,事前几乎没什么大张旗鼓的宣传。

If Mr. Zuckerberg succeeds, it could show other foreign companies blocked in China that they have a potential path into the huge and fast-growing market — one that calls for them to accept China's strict controls on discourse and to refrain from rocking the boat. A failure would underscore Chinese distrust of foreign technology companies and cement the idea that the low-profile approach is the only way to gain market access.


Mr. Zuckerberg's meeting with Mr. Liu — a rarity for an American business executive — underscores the dynamic. Mr. Liu sits on the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, the summit of power in China. The meeting serves China's propaganda purposes, allowing the country to show that one of the titans of America's new tech-based economy is happy to pay homage to China's leaders and its style of Internet governance.


If there is anyone Facebook has to win over, it is Mr. Liu, who has for years presided over the controls on China's highly censored and stage-managed media.


At the meeting, Mr. Liu lauded Facebook's technology prowess, but he also emphasized the importance of Internet governance "with Chinese characteristics," according to an official state news media account, a reference to censorship and surveillance within China.


Mr. Zuckerberg praised China's progress in building an advanced Internet and vowed to work with Chinese peers to "build a better world in cyberspace," according to Xinhua, China's official news agency.


Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.


On Friday, Mr. Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself smiling as he jogged past the Mao Zedong portrait in Tiananmen Square. He avoided mentioning both the violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators there in 1989 and that morning's dangerous air pollution levels.


During the discussion with Mr. Ma, the Alibaba founder, on Saturday, Mr. Zuckerberg also generally avoided sensitive topics, speaking instead about artificial intelligence and what should motivate entrepreneurs. He also praised China's emphasis on engineering, saying that he believed it would help solve future labor shortages associated with high-technology jobs.


"In general we're seeing a huge constraint around the world on the number of good engineers who are graduating from universities," Mr. Zuckerberg said. "And I think this is something that China has gotten really right by emphasizing for a long time."


China's state-run television broadcaster China Central Television posted a social media message that included a photo of Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, who is Chinese-American. Next to the photo, a cartoon character declares, "A son-in-law of China!"

中国官方的中央电视台在社交媒体上发布了一则消息,并附上了一张扎克伯格和妻子、华裔美国人普莉希拉·陈(Priscilla Chan)在一起的照片,照片旁边还用卡通字体写着:"中国女婿!"


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