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The Facebook CEO appeared at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and answered questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
The session is part of the two-day congressional testimony concerning Facebook’s data privacy practices in the wake of the company’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.
His unexpected answer to one question during the five-hour inquiry became widely discussed on Chinese social media, and turned him into a hero in China.
When it was Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan’s turn to ask Zuckerberg, he began with a question he deemed would “aid” the CEO a bit to the politicians who have been grilling him.
Sullivan: “Mr. Zuckerberg, quite a story, right? Dorm room to the global behemoth that you guys are. Only in America, would you agree with that?”
Zuckerberg: “Senator, mostly in America.”
Sullivan: “You couldn’t — you couldn’t do this in China, right? Or, what you did in 10 years.”
Zuckerberg: “Well — well, Senator, there are — there are some very strong Chinese internet companies.”
Sullivan: “Right but — you’re supposed to answer ‘yes’ to this question. OK, come on, I’m trying to help you, right? I mean, give me a break. You’re in front of a bunch of… the answer is ‘yes,’ OK, so thank you.”
Many Chinese netizens found the question as an attack against China and Zuckerberg’s response was brilliant for not going with it, according to Shanghaiist.
Weibo users praised Zuckerberg for being “honest” and “forthright,” with some joking that the billionaire CEO should just move to China and found a new company.
With Facebook’s plans of expanding to China, Zuckerberg’s statements should not come as a surprise as he has consistently made conciliatory gestures toward the country in recent years. He has been photographed next to President Xi Jinping, jogged in Beijing and has given lectures in Mandarin.
Meanwhile, the company itself has reportedly been developing software to censor content more efficiently by geographic area, a feature that could very well be acceptable to the Chinese political regime.
Featured Image via YouTube/Senator Dan Sullivan