The Chinese government (NYSE:FXI) continues to draw criticism from westerners for its censorship of citizens’ free speech. This has come in the form of silencing protests, political opposition, and more, but perhaps no speech restricting policy on part of the Chinese Government has prompted a larger outcry than the nation’s public campaign to limit domestic Internet access, blocking websites that conflict with party ideology. Recently the government was subject to a conflict with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), as the search engine giant brashly decided to stop censoring search results in the Chinese Mainland (as it had done previously at the request of the government).
Google is not the only web-based service provider to which China has sought to limit its people’s access, the majority of social networking websites, including Facebook (despite Zuckerberg’s express intention to grow a market in the region) have been banned in the country.
On the other hand one social networking site aimed towards professionals, the company behind a recent, highly successful IPO, LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) has been left unblocked by the Chinese Government. LinkedIn now boasts over one million registered users in China. According to the company’s managing director and vice president of Asia Pacific and Japan operations, “Entry into China is not something that we take lightly. With such a wide range of features and services available through the site, we’re focused on getting it right. We’re keeping an eye on China and LinkedIn’s growth there and we’re open to exploring ways to be in China over the long-term.”
LinkedIn hopes that Chinese users will take their network as seriously as the company holds its ambitions to break into the emerging market. The professional social network has reportedly attracted a higher-profile clientele in China, as most registered users in the nation are high-earning professionals involved in international business. Far from serving as a platform for free speech, LinkedIn’s (NYSE:LNKD) more business-minded outlook may be working to keep Chinese regulators at bay as its economic value could be important to the nation.
The company continues to pursue expansion into an international brand, having recently opened offices in Ireland, Australia, Canada, India, and most recently Singapore.