China Based Developers are Facebook’s Top Asia Software Partners

After setting up their office in Hong Kong in 2011, Facebook has declared that they have their biggest software development partners in China than any other Asian countries. Developers from China make up one fifth of Facebook’s partner network in Asia, David Lim, partner engineer at the company’s mobile developer relations division, says to Bloomberg. Even with Facebook being banned from within the mainland, developers leverage the social network’s 800 million members to reach their users overseas.

Facebook User Operations Safety Team workers look at reviews at Facebook headquarters in this file photo. While Facebook is banned from within mainiland China, Chinese developers comprise 20% of Facebook's developer partners in the region. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Lim highlights the opportunities that developers gain from Facebook’s support. “We now have Chinese-language help pages for developers, and we are working on giving them better support.,” Lim said. He added that Facebook’s partners in China include, a leading social game developer and operator in China and Japan.

The office in Hong Kong, a country that has its own, independent internet legal system from the mainland, was established with the goal of doing business with advertisers targeting overseas customers.

Even with Facebook being included in the list of 2,600 websites blocked in China under the policy of Internet censorship, the number Chinese users has increased from 100,000 to 447,460 users, according to SocialBakers. This is still a small proportion of the country’s population — 0.03% — and 0.11 percent penetration of total internet users. The top three demographics are  the 25-34 age group with 40% followed by the 18-24 group, with 35%. Users 35-44 years old trail with 12%.

Chinese users use Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology and software and web-based proxy sites to get past censorship. Quite a number of VPN software and services are available in the country, and can be acquired for an average fee of 100 yuan (US$ 15.85). With VPN services, users from mainland China can also browse the web anonymously.

When Facebook filed for its US$ 5 billion initial public offering (IPO) last month, China was mentioned several times in the company’s SEC filing with regards to their challenges, opportunities and threats in the world’s most populous country. With nearly half a billion citizens online, obviously it is a gold mine.

Despite the constraints, Facebook still continues to evaluate China and plans to enter the biggest internet market in the world to further grow its business. The challenge does not stop there, though. Once the social network gains access to this market, they have to compete with the local giant: Facebook-like social network Renren, which has around 160 million users.