Mark Zuckerberg’s criticism of China is reportedly not going down well with Facebook’s Chinese employees

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the US House Financial Services Committee during an examination of Facebook on Oct. 23, 2019. Photo: Xinhua. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BEIJING, Nov 21, 2019, Business Insider. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s fresh attacks on China are stoking tensions with Facebook’s Chinese employees, according to a report from The Information on Tuesday, South China Morning Post reported.

The Information does not go into detail, but writes that Zuckerberg’s increasingly aggressive stance on Beijing’s free speech policies is not going down well with Facebook’s base of Chinese employees, many of whom actually hail from mainland China.

During a speech at Georgetown University last month, for example, Zuckerberg went on the attack criticising Chinese state censorship and TikTok, a social media platform and growing rival to Facebook which is operated by Chinese tech giant ByteDance.

Zuckerberg’s increased anti-China rhetoric has been viewed by some as an attempt to please US lawmakers and to fend off regulation. It also risks creating an internal divide.

Chinese employees have also taken note of criticism made by execs associated with Facebook, The Information reported.

Facebook board member Peter Thiel launched a tirade against Google in July for being “infiltrated” by Chinese operatives, and called the company “treasonous.” He did not offer any evidence to back up his claims.

The tension has been exacerbated by the death by suicide of a Chinese employee at Facebook’s San Francisco headquarters in September. A Chinese Facebook engineer was fired in October after reportedly being asked to stop talking about his colleague’s suicide, and his admonishment of the company went viral on Chinese social media.

Zuckerberg’s anti-China rhetoric is a recent phenomenon, and previously the company has tried to move into China.

Facebook is one of the many American tech companies which is not allowed to operate in the country, being placed behind the so-called “Great Firewall.” As recently as 2016 Facebook was pursuing a potential acquisition of Shanghai-based lip-synching app Musical.ly as a way to break into the Chinese market. The deal never came good however, and Musical.ly was bought by ByteDance in 2017 and merged into what is now TikTok.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

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