Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/28/zuckerberg_in_china/

Zuckerberg flies to Shanghai for Apple Store visit

Facebook founder goes walkabout in China

By Phil Muncaster

Posted in Business, 28th March 2012 05:04 GMT

China is apparently the place to be this week as first Apple CEO Tim Cook and now Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg were spotted in the People’s Republic.

It remains to be seen whether his trip was business or pleasure but judging by the snaps posted on microblogging site Sina Weibo by hordes of Facebook fanatics, Zuck was in pretty relaxed mood as he strolled through – and apparently got lost in - central Shanghai with his Chinese finance Priscilla Chang.

He even had time to visit the vast Apple Store on Nanjing road, according to tech site MIC Gadget.

For a man who is probably worth close to $20bn by now, he certainly doesn’t go in for the usual CEO accoutrements of blacked out SUV and gaggle of bodyguards – perhaps he wanted to meet some of the locals to practice his Mandarin on.

This is not the first time Zuckerberg has been spotted in China, of course, having visited various big name local internet companies such as Alibaba and Sina back in 2010.

It would be fair to assume that there is probably some kind of Facebook-related reason for his visit this time.

The firm’s recent IPO filing with the SEC after all explained that it will “continue to evaluate entering China”, but noted that the “market has substantial legal and regulatory complexities” which make such a move difficult.

One way of overcoming these would be a partnership with a domestic ally, although there would still be the huge hurdle of government censorship to overcome.

Facebook is banned in the People’s Republic and with recent laws tightening registrations for social sites and the kind of content that can be viewed on such platforms in China, this shows little signs of being reversed.

Come to think of it, maybe Zuck just came to China to give himself a break from the site for a few days. ®