CHINA TOPIX

Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Twitter Opens Hong Kong Office To Make Money From Chinese Businessmen

Twitter's Hong Kong office finally opened today, despite being banned in mainland China since 2009.


The company now joins Google and Facebook, which set its foot in Hong Kong just a few years ago.

Twitter and Facebook have been blocked in China for the past six years. 

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Beijing is afraid both social media networks may be used by Chinese netizens to plan anti-government protests.

 This policy did not stop Twitter from pursuing its expansion efforts in the world's number one economy.

Twitter's Hong Kong branch, which will be headed by Twitter executive Peter Greenberger, will serve as the head office for the Greater China region. 

The San Francisco-based company aims to help Chinese businesses connect with users overseas and become globally competitive.  In return, Twitter expects to take a slice of China's economic pie. 

"We're capitalizing on this growing trend where the most ambitious, entrepreneurial and successful Chinese companies want to go global, and we believe that Twitter is an essential way for them to connect and engage with the world," said Shailesh Rao, Twitter's vice president for Asia Pacific, Americas and emerging markets.

Twitter had earlier reported a $479 million fourth-quarter revenue from advertisers who paid for "promoted tweets" or ads injected into Twitter users' timelines.  The company hopes to reach the same figure or more as they forge closer ties with Chinese users.

Twitter's Hong Kong office is now hiring account executives that will lead a sales team to work with advertisers.  The company said the fresh breed of sales people would become the foundation of their growth in Asia.

Twitter is also hiring a media partnership manager who will oversee the company's entertainment arm, a move analysts say is expected to boost the company's popularity in the region. 

An industry analyst said getting celebrities into tweeting would automatically generate online activity from thousands of fans - that would include people from the government to the general public.

Hong Kong is home to many internationally well-known movie stars such as Kung Fu star Jackie Chan.

Despite its ban in mainland China, many state-owned companies have already been using Twitter to connect to users abroad.  This includes state media CCTV and Xinhua news agency.  

Twitter and Facebook face tough competition from local firms on the mainland, such as Sina Weibo, the Chinese clone of Twitter.

In recent months, Twitter had been rolling out a series of experiments and upgrades aimed at boosting its online activity and luring users to join its network. 

This includes the launch of group direct messages and native video tools. 

The most recent experiment was a tweak into Twitter's homepage design, where a slideshow of tweets and photos from users are seen on its homepage.

The company said it is currently hosting more than 288 million monthly active users. It already has offices in Tokyo and Singapore.

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