Mark Zuckerberg is sparking outrage among Chinese dissidents who accuse the Facebook CEO of brownnosing Beijing after Zuckerberg reportedly urged employees to read a new book of speeches by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The book, called "The Governance of China," was published in nine languages in September as part of a public relations drive for the Chinese president, who is largely seen as the most powerful leader in China since Mao.
The news comes after a photo was released showing Lu Wei, head of China's Internet regulatory agency, visiting Facebook's headquarters. Lu is minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China. On Zuckerberg's desk, Xi Jinping's book can be seen.
"I've also bought copies of this book for my colleagues," Zuckerberg told his visitor. "I want them to understand socialism with Chinese characteristics."
Facebook has been banned in China since 2009, but Zuckerberg has been aggressively lobbying to get the social media network up and running in China. During a visit to Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University, the young CEO wowed the audience by speaking to them in almost proficient Mandarin.
Zuckerberg's aim is that his employees will learn about "socialism with Chinese characteristics," according to reports.
The book, however, raises eyebrows as it features a speech given by Xi in which he says Beijing should "use Internet communication rules to advocate things wholesome and positive, and disseminate and put into practice the core socialist values," and "properly handle timing, extent and efficiency to make our cyberspace wholesome and clean."
Dissidents in China aren't happy with Zuckerberg's so called "brownnosing" of the Chinese government, which denies its citizens the same level of freedom of expression on the Internet as allowed in the U.S.
"Zuckerberg is an Internet genius, the founder of the Facebook empire. Yet his understanding of Chinese politics is like that of a three-year-old, not a 30-year-old," said Hu Jia, a well-known Chinese dissident who has been placed under house arrest for criticizing the Communist Party. "He is like a Red Guard waving the White Book now. He knows nothing about Xi, nothing about China, even though he is studying Chinese. In China, the top three enemies of Internet are the Communist Party, Xi Jinping and Lu Wei."
Despite the criticism, it is easy to see why the Chinese market is of big interest to Zuckerberg. Research firm IDC recently released a report that suggested China will account for 43 percent of worldwide growth in technology. This makes breaking into the Chinese market extremely important for American companies.