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Is Facebook headed to China?

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(Read caption) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has toured the offices of Baidu, a popular Chinese search engine. Is Facebook turning an eye towards the market in China?

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On Monday, Facebook CEO – and person of the yearMark Zuckerberg toured the offices of Baidu, the most popular search engine in China, prompting speculation that Facebook will soon begin a push into the Chinese market. Makes sense. After all, as Zuckerberg himself reportedly asked back in October, "How can you connect the whole world if you leave out 1.6 billion people?"

For now, however, reps for both Facebook – which is banned in mainland China – and Baidu are staying mum. "C'mon people. Robin and Mark have known each other for a while," Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo wrote today on Twitter, referring to Robin Li, the CEO of Baidu. "Mark's interest in China is well known. Keep the speculation in check." Not that anyone was listening to Kuo.

The Atlantic has compiled a nice little round-up of analysis on a possible Facebook expansion into China, including a Tim Bradshaw piece posted to the Financial Times site, which argues that China is the next step in the puzzle for Zuckerberg. Others disagree.

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