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Facebook will not go to China… yet

So Facebook is not planning on hitting the Chinese markets just yet it seems, big surprise. This according to Facebook’s North Asia director, Jayne Leung, at the social media conference in Hong Kong, reports CNET.

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The statement was broken by a tweet from Meld Magazine editor Karen Poh, who is attending the conference.

Since 2007 there has been speculation on whether the social network will enter China when the company first registered the domain name Facebook.cn. Also, CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited China on vacation earlier this year, which fueled these speculations even more. Although Zuckerberg has been vocal in saying that the company will not enter China, he also said wouldn’t go public — I suppose he didn’t have choice on that one though.

Facebook is fast approaching its one billion user milestone. The Next Web’s Josh Ong reckons that though it has a small amount of loyal users who have found ways to access the social network from within China, the country has largely remained untapped by Facebook. This leaves room for massively popular Chinese alternatives such as Renren and Sina Weibo.

In its S-1 filling earlier this year, the company was not certain about its future in China:

China is a large potential market for Facebook, but users are generally restricted from accessing Facebook from China. We do not know if we will be able to find an approach to managing content and information that will be acceptable to us and to the Chinese government.

It is easy to see China’s attraction for Facebook: the country has more than 538 million users online, out of a total population of more than 1.34 billion people. That’s a lot of people Facebook could be connecting.