Despite speaking in heavily-accented Mandarin, Zuckerberg struck a chord with his Chinese audience, making them laugh and clap as he answered questions in full Mandarin, stopping only occasionally to find a word. The full interview can be watched on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page.
Zuckerberg was speaking at a forum between students at the Beijing Tsinghua University, and the board (of which Zuckerberg is a member).
"He struggled through his Chinese, but it lightened up the atmosphere like no other," said one participant. More than anything, people were pleasantly surprised at Zuckerberg’s efforts of mastering the Chinese language, which he said is "very challenging", ChinaDaily reported.
Here's Zuckerberg's advice to Chinese entrepreneurs on how they can change the world as told by ChinaDaily. "The best companies in the world were started not because the founders wanted to be entrepreneurial, but because they wanted to change the world. If you want a business first and then generate some ideas, you may not know which ideas are good; but if you have ideas first and then create a business, you’ll be more likely to succeed."
Zuckerberg started studying Chinese in 2010 and has practiced on a daily basis. Asked by the interviewer why he started learning Chinese, Zuckerberg says he learnt the language so he could communicate with his wife American Chinese wife Priscilla’s (Chan) grandmother who does not speak any English.
Zuckerberg told the audience he has taken a liking to Chinese martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia, and has taken a trip to visit Huo’s hometown in Tianjin, which borders the Hebei province. Hua was a martial artist born in the late Qing dynasty and founder of the Chin Woo martial arts school, with a wide following in Asia. The story about his life was made famous by Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury, and later in Hollywood’s Fearless, starring Jet Li.
Zuckerberg also told his Chinese audience Facebook had recently hired 20 Chinese graduates for the company.
Yet the Chinese market is largely off-limits for Facebook. The Chinese government had since 2009 blocked Chinese users’ access to Facebook in the wake of Xinjiang province’s riot which saw 200 people killed.
China has various version of social networking sites like Facebook, including Ren Ren, WeChat, Sina Weibo QZone, among others. WeChat is the most popular social site accessed via mobile phones, with over 400 million users, according to China’s InternetWatch.com.
What’s challenging for Facebook -- when it does get to enter China -- is how it will cope with trademark trolls who have hundreds of variations of the Mandarin word reflecting “Facebook” already trademarked in China.