Zuckerberg stuns with Chinese chat

China may ban Facebook, but not its co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who stunned and delighted an audience of students in Beijing with a 30-minute chat in his recently learned Mandarin Chinese.

Zuckerberg stuns with Chinese chat

There was no explicit discussion of China’s ban on the social media site, which has been in place since 2009, though an indirect reference to it drew laughter during the Q&A session at the prestigious Tsinghua University.

Zuckerberg, whose company has long sought to enter the Chinese market, noted that Facebook already helps some Chinese firms in foreign markets, citing computer maker Lenovo’s ads on Facebook in India.

Asked what Facebook’s plans are for China, Zuckerberg said: “We are already in China. We help Chinese companies gain customers abroad. We want to help the rest of the world connect to China.”

Zuckerberg’s Chinese pronunciation was far from fluent and some native speakers said it was a “challenge” to understand him. But he was able to maintain intelligible conversation for 30 minutes and the students responded with warm cheers for his effort and laughter at his humour.

Zuckerberg married Chinese-American Priscilla Chan in 2012, and set himself the goal of learning Mandarin in 2010. He said he wanted to learn the language partly because his wife’s grandmother only speaks Chinese.

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