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Facebook quietly sets up ‘innovation hub’ in China (where it is still blocked)

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The social media giant is setting up an "innovation hub" in Hangzhou (the country's fourth largest city and Zhejiang province capital in East China), and is essentially an entrepreneur incubator.
The social media giant is setting up an “innovation hub” in Hangzhou (the country’s fourth largest city and Zhejiang province capital in East China), and is essentially an entrepreneur incubator.

Image: studioeast/Getty Images

Facebook might not be digitally accessible in China, but that’s not stopping it from establishing a physical presence in the country.

The social media giant is setting up an “innovation hub” in Hangzhou — the country’s fourth largest city and Zhejiang province capital in East China — which will essentially function as an entrepreneur incubator,  supporting Chinese developers, innovators, and startups.

If the enterprise is successful, it could serve to get the website unblocked in the world’s most populated country. 

Google, another banned site, launched a similar campaign in December with the opening of an artificial intelligence lab in China. It has since released a selection of AI-based apps for the country, including a file management app. However, as of press time, the search engine and its related sites remain blocked.

Facebook has been trying for a while to establish itself on mainland China. It came close twice with a location in Shanghai and another in Beijing, but neither were successful. 

Its new center was revealed in a filing by Facebook Technology (Hangzhou) Co. that was approved last week by China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity Center, according to the Washington Post (the document is no longer accessible).

The subsidiary company Facebook set up in China for the center is called Lianshu Science & Technology, which is a literal translation of Facebook into Mandarin Chinese: lian (臉) meaning face and shu (書) meaning book.

It is also noteworthy that the subsidiary is entirely owned by Facebook, which is a huge win for the social media monopoly, since that means it did not have to partner with popular Chinese social media sites Weibo or WeChat to get approval.

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