Twitter to Open Hong Kong Office with Eyes on China

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The service is currently banned in China, but the country still forms a key part of the company's growth plans

Twitter will open offices in Hong Kong next year, in what many industry observers see as a more assertive move to tap the huge Chinese market, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. 

The social media platform has been blocked in China since 2009, ostensibly for censorship reasons but also to protect domestic Chinese equivalents like Sina Weibo. The WSJ reports that there are presently no plans for the block on Twitter in China to be lifted, but the company still sees strong growth potential in the Greater China market, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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Twitter's base in Hong Kong will primarily be a sales-led operation, "to help advertisers reach the global market," said Shailesh Rao, Twitter's vice president for the Asia-Pacific region, Americas and emerging markets. Speaking to the WSJ, Rao added: "Our long-standing goal has always been to have the platform reach every person on the planet ... That's inclusive of Chinese users as well, one of the largest Internet populations in the world. Unfortunately, we're restricted from operating in China. If that changes for the better, of course, we'll be pleased with that."

When one considers Twitters global user numbers the shift eastwards makes total sense: 77 percent of Twitter's 284 million users originate from outside the U.S., but they currently only generate 34 percent of the company's total revenue. The balance is shifting though and the company's international revenue is up 176 percent on the previous quarter, with the Asia-Pacific region the largest and fastest-growing region. 

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