Facebook Says China Is Biggest App Developer Source in Asia

Facebook Inc., whose website has been restricted in China since 2009, said it has more application development partners in the country than any other part of Asia.

Developers of software from China make up about 20 percent of Facebook’s partner network in Asia, David Lim, a partner engineer at the company’s mobile developer relations division, said in an interview in Hong Kong today. Chinese app developers are using Facebook to reach overseas users, Lim said, without providing figures.

Facebook is wooing software firms in China to help bolster its apps lineup for the more than 800 million people worldwide who use its social-networking service. The Menlo Park, California-based company last month said in its filing for a proposed $5 billion initial public offering that it is continuing to evaluate entering China, the world’s biggest Internet market.

“We now have Chinese-language help pages for developers, and we are working on giving them better support,” said Lim. “Developers in mainland China are important to us.”

Facebook’s partners in China include Rekoo.com, a Beijing-based provider of games, Lim said at the World Internet Developers’ Summit conference.

Restrictions in China

China bans pornography, gambling and material critical of the ruling Communist Party on the Internet by requiring local Web companies to self-censor content, and blocking overseas websites including Facebook and Google Inc.’s Youtube. The country had 513 million Internet users at the end of 2011, according to the government-backed China Internet Network Information Center. That’s more than the combined populations of the U.S. and Japan.

“Users are generally restricted from accessing Facebook from China,” the company said in its Feb. 1 regulatory filing for its IPO. “We do not know if we will be able to find an approach to managing content and information that will be acceptable to us and to the Chinese government.”

Shanda Games Ltd., China’s third-biggest online games company, is working on titles for Facebook users, Alan Tan, chief executive officer at the Shanghai-based company, said in November.

Facebook plans to expand its mobile advertising business in Asia, Lim said. Advertisers will now be able to insert marketing messages into the news feed feature for people who access Facebook from wireless handsets, Mike Hoefflinger, customer marketing director at Facebook, said Feb. 29.

More than 400 million people, or over half of Facebook’s users, now access the service on mobile devices, Lim said.

Last year, Facebook set up an office in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, and said it may win business from Chinese advertisers.

In Asia, Facebook has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul and Hyderabad, India, Lim said.