A couple words of caution: Baidu doesn’t speak for the Chinese government, and no one’s hinted that any sort of formal alliance exists between Baidu and Facebook. A high-ranking Baidu spokesperson has said he’d like to see Facebook operate in China, however.
Kaiser Kuo, Director of International Communications at Baidu, indicated his support while participating in an online discussion about Mark Zuckerberg today. On Quora, Kuo started by confirming that Zuckerberg met with Robin Li, Baidu’s CEO.
Then Kuo continued, "[A] Facebook entry into China would be fraught with challenges but personally I believe that having Facebook in China, even if it were compelled to abide by China’s strict censorship requirements, would still be better than not having it here. I believe that it would be a net positive for China’s Internet users. More connectivity is better than less."
Of course, plenty of questions about human rights and censorship exist. Plus, American companies have often had trouble getting traction in China even when they obey the Chinese government’s every request.
Still, it looks like Facebook’s got a friend in Baidu – the company that’s pretty well crushed Google – when it comes to establishing a presence in China.
We’ll keep an eye out for any interesting statements on Zuckerberg’s part when he returns from his trip to Beijing. Hat tip goes to Oliver Chiang.