Although Twitter has been blocked in China, Twitter chief Dick Costolo is meeting with Chinese officials in Shanghai, fueling speculation that the social network is expanding into China.
Costolo plans to spend three days in Shanghai and meet with government officials, including representatives of the free trade zone, according to Reuters. While there is speculation that Costolo is there to help Twitter gain some marketshare, Chinese official said they had no intention of lessening censorship.
Other tech companies, such as Google, have not been successful. Google pulled out of mainland China in 2010 after numerous government impediments and censorship.
As for the official statement, Twitter said Costolo was visiting China as a learning experience. "Dick is visiting China because he wants to learn more about Chinese culture and the country's thriving technology sector," a Twitter spokesman told Reuters.
Costolo will also meet university administrators and participate in a round-table discussion with students at Fudan University in Shanghai. Although Costolo has publicly mentioned that he would love Twitter to exist in China, it can't work with a large amount of censorship. But Twitter still has Chinese users, although many are running programs to mask their origin. More prominent users include artist Ai Weiwei, the Xinhua news agency and broadcaster China Central Television.
Despite Twitter's comments, most social networks would love to crack into China's lucrative market. Unfortunately, with so much government interference and censorship, it's hard for most Silicon Valley tech founders to allow their product to be so compromised. So will China's government finally relent, or will it be the Silicon Valley techies who finally acquiesce? It seems to be an ideological battle and we don't know who will win.
Published at 10:28 AM PDT on Mar 18, 2014