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Twitter CEO heads to China to meet with officials

Twitter has been banned from China since 2009, but could be an extremely lucrative market for the service if the ban could be lifted.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is heading to Shanghai on a tour of China, but there could be more to his visit, a new report claims.

Costolo will land in China on Monday and meet with government officials over a period of three days, Reuters reported Monday. According to Twitter, Costolo is simply heading to China to "learn more about Chinese culture," but the fact that he's meeting with government officials perhaps tells a different story.

Twitter has been banned in China since 2009 and has been seen by the government as potentially hostile to its longstanding assault on free speech. Twitter has made no inroads into lifting that ban, and according to Reuters, Costolo will not directly ask for a lift to that ban during his visit.

Still, it's clear that China is integral to Twitter's growth. The company's shareholders are looking for more growth in revenue, and generating cash on the massive Chinese market could be a good way to do that. How Twitter would sidestep China's censorship on anything it deems "unhealthy" to the public, however, remains to be seen. For his part, Costolo has said in the past that he would not change Twitter just to satisfy the Chinese government.