Facebook reportedly teaming with Baidu to build Chinese social-networking site
Facebook is reportedly entering into a partnership with Baidu, China's No. 1 Web search company, to launch a new social-networking website in that country.
The agreement between the two companies comes after several meetings between Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, and Baidu CEO Robin Li, according to an article from Sohu.com that was reported by Bloomberg.
Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost declined to comment on the rumored partnership with Baidu, but said in an emailed statement that the company is "currently studying and learning about China, as part of evaluating any possible approaches that could benefit our users, developers and advertisers."
Li and Zuckerberg met in December, when the Facebook co-founder visited China. Li, who is 42 and was educated in the U.S., has built Baidu into the leading search engine in China and that nation's second-largest Internet company.
In December, when the two CEOs met, Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said that Li and Zuckerberg have "known each other for some time," and that the meeting "does not foretell Facebook's entry into China."
According to Bloomberg, Sohu is reporting that a new Chinese social-networking site from Facebook and Baidu is underway and will be independent of Facebook's international websites. The Sohu report cited unnamed employees at Baidu.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all currently blocked in China and have been as far back as 2009 because the websites don't adhere to Chinese Communist Party rules for censoring content.
Despite the censorship rules, many companies, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, remain intrigued by China because it is the largest market of Internet users in the world.
Upper photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, at Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto on Thursday, discusses the company's servers. Credit: Norbert von der Groeben / Reuters
Lower photo: Robin Li, CEO of Baidu.com, answers a question during a news conference in Shanghai on Jan. 8, 2004. Credit: Claro Cortes IV / Reuters