Ben Kothe / BuzzFeed News
By the summer of 2016, Facebook was aggressively courting the world’s most populous country. Having largely saturated most of the developed world, the social network turned its attention to China, which banned Facebook in 2009, cutting it off from more than 700 million internet users.
So like any shrewd businessperson, Mark Zuckerberg embarked on a concerted charm offensive to court Beijing. He taught himself Mandarin and then used it to deliver a well-received speech at China’s Tsinghua University. He touted Chinese science fiction books to his Facebook followers and posted a photo of himself jogging through a smog-filled Tiananmen Square. And he reportedly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to bestow an honorary name on his then-unborn daughter during a White House dinner.
As Facebook’s chief wooed the Chinese government publicly with demonstrations of deference and appeasement, he was quietly working to close
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