Sandberg Beats China's Facebook Ban With Call to Lean In

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg gestures as she speaks at "Women in Leadership and the Future of Online Business", hosted by Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) and CITIC Press Corporation and Xinrui New Media at a hotel in Beijing, on Sept. 10, 2013. Photograph by Andy Wong/AP Photo Close

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Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg gestures as she speaks at "Women in Leadership and the Future of Online Business", hosted by Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) and CITIC Press Corporation and Xinrui New Media at a hotel in Beijing, on Sept. 10, 2013. Photograph by Andy Wong/AP Photo

Facebook may be banned in China, but for one night anyway, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg made herself heard in the world's most populous nation.

Sandberg, promoting the Chinese translation of her book "Lean In" that was released in the U.S. in March, brought a message of change to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 800 at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing.

Delivering key themes from the book, Sandberg called for a global push to address the stereotypes that hold women back, changes in corporate polices to be more accommodating to women, and for more equality and work-sharing between men and women in the home. China can be a leader in the global push for equality, Sandberg said.

"I believe the time is right for change," said Sandberg, 44, who joined Facebook in 2008. "I believe that China can lead. It is not just the sheer size of the country or your population. It's not just your unbelievable economic growth that is the envy of the world. It's that this society has very deep, deep roots. Parents invest in children. This is a country that understands that change needs to happen to make things better for the next generation."

At no time during her presentation did Sandberg address China's censorship or the outlook for Facebook in the world's largest Internet market.

Photographer: Britta Pedersen/epa via Corbis

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg presents her book "Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead" in Berlin, Germany, on April 19, 2013. Close

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg presents her book "Lean in: Women,... Read More

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Photographer: Britta Pedersen/epa via Corbis<br>

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg presents her book "Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead" in Berlin, Germany, on April 19, 2013.

China censors the Internet by blocking access to overseas websites including Facebook and Google's YouTube, as well those containing pornography, gambling and content critical of the ruling Communist Party. Facebook has been restricted since 2009, shutting it out of a market with more than 591 million Web users.

As Sandberg stepped off stage, she was surrounded by autograph seekers. Once journalists began lobbing questions her way, it was all self-censorship.

"I'm not taking any questions," Sandberg said as she rushed away.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Edmond Lococo in Beijing at elococo@bloomberg.net

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