For years, Facebook’s services have been blocked in China, where the government maintains a strict level of control over internet traffic within its borders. But that could be changing soon. According to regulatory filings viewed by Reuters, Facebook has established a subsidiary in Hangzhou, hinting at the corporation’s entry into the Chinese market in some form.
The subsidiary reported holding $30 million in capital, declared in a filing approved on China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System. Facebook told Reuters that it is not changing its approach to the country; competitors like Google are accessible despite having certain content censored. “We are interested in setting up an innovation hub in Zhejiang to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups,” the company said.
Facebook’s WhatsApp was previously available in China, but was blocked last year before the country’s congress met. Google has a similar AI lab, focused on research an development. Apple has similarly tried to get its iPhones into Chinese hands with limited success, often removing apps that attract government ire. Apple also recently migrated Chinese iCloud accounts onto servers located in state-controlled facilities.
Update, 5:25 p.m.: According to the New York Times, “the corporate registration was taken down from the Chinese government website, and some references to the new subsidiary appeared to be censored on social media in the country.”