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​Zuckerberg delights audience in Beijing with Mandarin prowess

The Facebook founder and CEO speaks for 30 minutes in Mandarin at a question and answer session and talks about his company's plans to engage its largest untapped market.

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A still from the video of Zuckerberg's fireside chat in Beijing. Screenshot by Aloysius Low/CNET

Following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's naming to the advisory council at Tsinghua University's school of Economics and Management, a question and answer fireside chat with Zuckerberg spoken entirely in Mandarin at the university nailed Zuck's message to China -- Facebook is willing to play alongside China and gain access to the country's decision makers.

During the chat, Zuckerberg -- who spoke entirely in Mandarin albeit with a somewhat hard-to-understand accent -- went as far as to credit the China market for fostering innovative companies, while plugging Tencent QQ, Taobao, and even Xiaomi, whose CEO (Lei Jun) Zuckerberg met with for dinner just a couple of days earlier.

His speaking engagement comes right as he's making inroads into the China market. Instagram and Facebook might be blocked in China now, but it's no secret that Facebook sees the market opportunity to attract local mobile advertisers from the region that are looking to go abroad.

While Facebook's Greater China ad sales operations historically have been conducted from abroad in Hong Kong and Singapore, Facebook has worked with local advertising partners in China and recently set up an office in Beijing.

When asked about Facebook's plans for China, Zuckerberg discussed his vision to connect China with the rest of the world, using the Facebook pages of Chinese cities Hangzhou and Qingdao as examples.