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LinkedIn makes China connection

By Euan McKirdy for CNN
updated 4:11 AM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
Linkedin, perhaps the world's most successful professional networking site, has expanded into China.
Linkedin, perhaps the world's most successful professional networking site, has expanded into China.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LinkedIn launches beta version of its simplified Chinese site
  • Company currently has four million users in China
  • CEO Jeff Weiner admits the company will comply with Chinese government restrictions

Hong Kong (CNN) -- LinkedIn, the networking site for professionals, has done what few other foreign online services have achieved -- it has successfully set up its China operations.

With the launch of a simplified Chinese version of its hugely popular "social" media site for professional contacts, it is set to exploit a gap in this potentially lucrative market.

In a blog post, CEO Jeff Weiner yesterday announced the low-key beta version launch. "The new Simplified Chinese website will broaden our reach to the country's more than 140 million professionals who currently represent roughly one in five of the world's knowledge workers," he said.

With four million Chinese users -- according to Weiner -- LinkedIn has a long way to go to catch up with China's native social media sites and apps, which number in the hundreds of millions. WeChat, the Chinese social media app of the moment, has a reported 272 million users.

Chinese cooperation

The announcement has come under fire already, with reaction to Weiner's online admission that the company has agreed to cooperate with Chinese authorities on data storage and censorship.

"Government restrictions on content will be implemented only when and to the extent required," his post read.

"LinkedIn will be transparent about how it conducts business in China and will use multiple avenues to notify members about our practices.

"The company will undertake extensive measures to protect the rights and data of our members."

Internet giants Facebook and Google have previously pulled out of China due to concerns over censorship and privacy, while Yahoo has previously been criticized for apparently handing over data on dissidents to the authorities.

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