That’s the headline on my newest story, out Monday with my colleague Raffaele Huang. It begins:
HONG KONG — Mark Zuckerberg in late 2021 had a question for those working on Meta Platforms’ strategy for its virtual-reality headset: If Apple can sell iPhones in China, and Tesla can sell cars, why can’t we sell our devices there?
The question, posed on a video call, led to a push by Meta to restart its China business by selling its Quest headsets in the country, according to a person familiar with the matter, more than a decade after Facebook was blocked there.
The company held discussions with several Chinese tech companies and has made progress with videogame powerhouse Tencent Holdings, people familiar with the matter said. But the effort faces challenges, in part because Chinese executives worry that Zuckerberg isn’t seen as friendly to China, according to people familiar with the matter.
In recent years the Meta founder has accused China of stealing technology and taken aim at ByteDance, the Chinese owner of video-sharing platform TikTok. That has undermined a charm offensive Zuckerberg undertook in Beijing in 2016 and bolstered negative views of the entrepreneur in Beijing, the people said.
Officials’ perceptions of Zuckerberg could add uncertainty should Meta and its partner seek licenses and approvals for their products and services in China, some of the people said.
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