After being crowned Time Person of the Year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in China and is reported to have visited China's top search engine, Baidu's office.
Photos posted on a Chinese site Shanghaiist reveals Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Priscilla Chan, who is of Chinese descent, taking a tour of Baidu establishment accompanied by Baidu's CEO Robin Li.
Baidu confirmed that Zuckerberg had visited Baidu's office but did not reveal the details of the talks.
However, the visit sent the rumor mill chugging with the some even surmising that Baidu could be eyeing Facebook.
For Facebook, China, where it is currently blocked, is a strategic market to conquer. With a population of around 1.6 billion people, Facebook cannot miss a Chinese adventure.
Chinese relationship with US tech companies reached its nadir with the China-Google spat which ultimately led to Google's departure from China. Google lauched its services in China in 2006, agreeing to some censorship from Chinese government. However, early this year Google said it will no longer acquiesce to Chinese demands for censorship, after its systems were attacked primarily targeting email accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
The vacuum left by Google was filled by Baidu.
Facebook, Twitter and all Google services were blocked in July 2009 after the deadly riots in Xinjiang.
In April a report by ifeng.com had surfaced that said Facebook will enter China within the next 3 months. The report said that Facebook could either enter through a joint venture route or through acquisition.
A $60 million investment in Facebook by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing in 2007 was seen as a sign of Facebook's attempt to find a way to enter into China.