Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wants the Chinese ban on his company’s social media service to be lifted.
That’s apparent judging by his busy weekend drumming up PR in China, during which he jogged through Beijing, participated in a two-man panel discussion with Alibaba founder Jack Ma and then held a meeting with the country’s propaganda chief.
Zuckerberg began his trip with a Friday morning “smog jog” through Beijing landmarks Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.
The next publicized event on his itinerary was a panel discussion with Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba, at the annual China Development Forum at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. Zuckerberg opened up the session by speaking in Mandarin although the two spoke in English for rest of the discussion.
Their discussion centered around artificial intelligence, virtual reality and entrepreneurship.
“Artificial intelligence will understand senses, such as vision and feeling, better than human beings,” Zuckerberg said. “Its application in daily lives such as autonomous driving will improve the world.”
He added: “There is a trend toward a more immersive and natural tool which can allow people better experience themselves and the world. And I believe that is virtual reality.”
Zuckerberg also said he was “extremely optimistic” about China’s future because of its emphasis on engineering.
During the forum, Ma praised Zuckerberg for his attitude toward Chinese culture.
“He respects the Chinese and Oriental culture by instinct,” Ma said. “Not because he wants to make money.”
Ma also recalled that after the two had first exchanged phone numbers at the World Economic Forum nine years ago, Zuckerberg was the first to call.
Zuckerberg wrapped up his weekend in China by meeting with the Liu Yunshan, the country’s propaganda minister. Chinese state media reported that he praised China’s internet development and expressed hope that he could work more closely with its tech leaders.
Although the Facebook CEO’s trip was criticized as pandering to the government so that his company might get the opportunity to tap into the country’s customer base of 700 million internet users, Zuckerberg’s love of Chinese culture is well-documented.
The sinophile married Harvard classmate Priscilla Chen, who is Chinese-American, in 2012 and the couple gave their newborn daughter Max the Chinese name Chen Mingyu. He has visited China several times throughout the years and has also displayed his Mandarin language skills.