Running a $190 billion company and donating $25 million to fight Ebola just isn't enough for Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook CEO has recently learned Mandarin Chinese. And we're not just talking taking a couple classes and calling himself fluent just so he can list it on his resume. Zuckerberg hosted a 30-minute Q&A at a Beijing university this week all in Mandarin Chinese to put his new language skills to the test.
Students told the Associated Press that Zuckerberg's Mandarin Chinese was very difficult to understand and he still has a long way to go, but they were nonetheless impressed. Zuckerberg said China is a great country and he hopes learning the language will help him learn more about the culture. Learning Mandarin Chinese has been a goal of Zuckerberg's since he began dating his now wife Priscilla Chan in 2010, who is Chinese-American.
The importance of Zuckerberg's talk is that Facebook has been banned in China since 2009 (Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are also blocked), something that of course came up in the question and answer session. When one student asked what Facebook's plans in China were, Zuckerberg told the crowd Facebook already was in China, helping Chinese companies gain customers abroad.
Facebook may be banned for use in China, but the company still has an office there, where Zuckerberg says they help Chinese companies connect with the rest of the world.
In addition to questions about Facebook's relevance in China, students asked personal questions as well, such as what his favorite Chinese dish was and his favorite color. He also imparted the students with his business advice: "The most important thing is to not give up," he said. "It's very difficult to develop a company. Most things won't go smoothly. You'll have to make some difficult decisions. You may have to lay some people off. If you don't believe in your mission, it's very easy to give up. Most founders give up. But the best ones don't."