Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg -- on holiday in China where his social networking site is officially blocked -- met Wednesday with top executives from the country's popular web portal Sina.com.
Zuckerberg's meeting with Sina.com chief executive Charles Chao and vice president Peng Shaobin comes two days after the 26-year-old had lunch with the head of search engine giant Baidu to discuss the world's biggest web market.
"Mr. Zuckerberg came to get a better understanding of Sina and China's Weibo market," Sina said in a statement sent to Agence France Presse.
"It's more of a casual than a formal visit."
Sina's Weibo is a Twitter-like micro-blogging service. Foreign social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked by China's government but many users on the mainland access them via virtual proxy networks.
Beijing has set up a huge online censorship system sometimes dubbed the "Great Firewall of China" that aggressively blocks sites or snuffs out Internet content on topics considered sensitive.
Zuckerberg, clearly keen to see his company crack the Chinese market of at least 420 million Internet users, told an audience at Stanford University recently that he was "spending a lot of time" studying Chinese.
"It's kind of a personal challenge this year, I'm taking an hour a day and I'm learning Chinese. I'm trying to understand the language, the culture, the mindset -- it's just such an important part of the world," he said.
"How can you connect the whole world if you leave out a billion-six people?"
Zuckerberg, who is on holiday with his Chinese-American girlfriend, met with Baidu's chief executive Robin Li on Monday, a spokesman for the Chinese company, Kaiser Kuo, told AFP.
"It makes sense -- he is interested in the Chinese Internet, he's made that very plain. Obviously this is one of the big dark spots for Facebook because it is blocked here in China," Kuo said.
"He has had a long-standing interest in China. I'm sure he wants to get the advice of someone who knows the Internet landscape well here."
Facebook told AFP ahead of the trip that the 26-year-old -- recently named Time's
"Person of the Year" -- was "not doing any press or any meetings" during his vacation in China.
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