Mark Zuckerberg, the American founder of Facebook, jogged in Beijing this week. And it caught everybody's attention.
Chinese social media was ablaze in amazement that a healthy soul like Zuckerberg would venture into AQI 300+ pollution for a run along Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. But the dirty run was for attention, not health, and the choice of running meters from China's power center at Zhongnanhai rather than through the university streets of Haidian showcases Zuckerberg's kowtow to the Chinese government rather than to Facebook's potential Chinese users.
Facebook is blocked and filtered behind China's firewall, but LinkedIn is not. Facebook declines to censor content that China deems unreasonable and illegal, but LinkedIn has no problem with omitting, deleting, and censoring content on its website available in China.
So by declining to censor itself in China, Facebook's founder apparently feels an obsequious charm offensive is the main weapon in his bag to change the minds of China's government. From the American side, Zuckerberg's run is the type of entrepreneurial spirit that should be admired; but from the Chinese side, it's embarrassing. And the public relations guru who okayed the central Beijing jog should be fired.
From the "Hermit of Peking" Edmund Backhouse, up through modern times with Rupert Murdoch, and now to the present day with Mark Zuckerberg, legions of foreigners have attempted to come to China to "change" the nation or reap great wealth. None have succeeded. And Facebook's PR stunt shows more of a stunted naivety: absolutely nothing will change with Facebook's ban in China until Facebook itself changes. But that won't happen, and so Facebook will not "run" in China.