SAN FRANCISCO - Professional social networking website LinkedIn Corp. launched a Chinese language version of its website on Monday, a move that could jump-start its expansion into the world's largest Internet market by users even as the company acknowledged it will have to police what some of them say on its website.
LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner acknowledged in a blog post on Monday that the company would have to censor some of the content that users post on its website in order to comply with Chinese rules.
But Weiner said that the benefits of providing its online service to people in China outweighed those concerns. He vowed that the company would be “transparent” about its practices as it builds up its presence in a country it said is home to one in five of the “knowledge workers” that are LinkedIn's core audience.
“Extending our service in China raises difficult questions, but it is clear to us that the decision to proceed is the right one,” Weiner said.
China is a difficult country for foreign Internet companies to operate in.
Beijing censors sensitive terms from the Internet and blocks social networks Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., a widespread effort that analysts say is geared towards maintaining the Communist Party's hold on power and preserving social stability.
Google Inc., the world's number one Internet search engine, relocated its Chinese language search service to Hong Kong from mainland China in 2006 following a dispute with the Chinese government over censorship and cyber-attacks that Google said originated in China.
Weiner said that China's restrictions on content would be implemented “only when and to the extent required.”
LinkedIn already has more than four million users in China who use its English-language website, but the company has signaled that it was interested in making a broader expansion into China.