Mark Zuckerberg captivated his Chinese audience by addressing them in fluent Mandarin. The Facebook CEO spoke about his company’s mission while visiting China.
Zuckerberg gave a 20-minute speech to his Chinese audience in their native tongue, Mandarin. He was speaking to the students and faculty of Tsingua University in Beijing on Saturday. As expected by the founder of Facebook, Zuckerberg shared his accomplishment by a post on the most popular social media platform. His company made sure the video had English subtitles.
It was truly an impressive feat to speak to a Chinese audience without any transcript in hand, in their local language, but Zuckerberg proved his commitment at mastering the language that many feel will be the most vital to the world economy. Mark Zuckerberg had married his longtime girlfriend, Chinese-American Priscilla Chan, in 2012. However, he had set himself the goal of speaking fluent Mandarin in 2010. Though this might be Zuckerberg’s first full-length speech in Mandarin, he had spoken with Chinese colleague students in their language a year earlier. Thereafter, he even conversed with President Xi Jinping, during the latter’s visit to America. Speaking about the encounter, Zuckerberg had said the following.
“This was the first time I’ve ever spoken with a world leader entirely in a foreign language. I consider that a meaningful personal milestone.”
What did Zuckerberg say to his Chinese audience? Addressing a crowd full of students and academicians, Zuckerberg spoke about his company’s mission and roadmap for the future. Despite frequent pauses and minor grammatical errors, Zuckerberg managed to convey his intentions behind launching a platform that connected the world’s most valuable resource: people, reported the Daily Mail. Translated, Zuckerberg said the following.
“At the time, there were so many websites on the Internet and you could find almost everything—news, music, books, things to buy—but there was no service to help us find the most important thing to our lives: people. I want to connect people and when I look at Chinese companies like Alibaba and Xiaomi, I see the same story.”
China has multiple social media platforms, the biggest being Renren, which began as Facebook clone Xiaonei. It is closely competed with by Weibo, a micro-blogging platform along the lines of Twitter. Though Facebook faces many restrictions in China, Zuckerberg mentioned he intended to expand his platform beyond America.
“Some people worried Facebook might only work in the U.S. for connecting people, but the company will keep going, expanding to other countries.”
Zuckerberg chose to acknowledge the efforts of Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, and added that he still feels Facebook has a lot of room to grow.
“Jack Ma has a great quote which I like a lot: Compared with 15 years ago, we are big; compared with 15 years from now, we are still a baby.”
Zuckerberg’s attempt to address the Chinese people in their own language was deeply appreciated by those present in the auditorium, who rewarded him with a lengthy applause. The appreciation even continued online, where China’s internet users congratulated him. Many added that Zuckberberg speaking in Mandarin was an inspiration for the Chinese people to learn English. Few nitpicked about Zuckerberg’s Mandarin, which was laden with “strong accent,” reported the Wall Street Journal.
Zuckerberg’s earnest attempts at speaking in Mandarin may have earned him a lot of praise, but it also allowed him to spend an extended amount of time with the Chinese dignitaries when they visited America, said Chinese entrepreneur Zhou Hongyi.
“Mr. Zuckerberg got more time with Mr. Xi than other American entrepreneurs because he was speaking Chinese. To find a foreigner who can speak Chinese is always a shock, so they spoke the longest.”
[Photo by Kimihiro Hoshino, Tsinghua University / Getty Images]