Facebook boss Zuckerberg drops Taiwan on way to China

Mark Zuckerberg can’t get enough of himself, and now he’s jetting off to Communist China to see what’s cooking there. That is, if the global WikiLeaks brouhaha and the Korean Peninsula Juche shenanigans don’t put his trip on hold.

Facebook can’t be accessed inside the wired walls of the 1984-ish Great Chinese Firewall – same goes for Youtube and Twitter – but he’s headed there this month to get a taste of the billion-strong menu items.

Meanwhile, Facebook seems to have dropped China-rival Taiwan from its alphabetical dropdown menu of member countries for FB support problems, as will be explained below.

As for the upcoming trip, Jules Quartly, a British expat writing for the China Daily in Beijing, puts it this way: “Let’s face it, Zucherberg has obviously [got] a public relations team that is negotiating high-level talks with Chinese leaders to give him access to a billion plus extra characters.”

What else? Well, there’s the relatives. Zuckerberg’s Jewish, part of a 5,000-year-old family tree, but he has no “mishpocheh” there.

His long term gal pal and wife-to-be, Priscilla Chan, comes from a long line of Middle Kingdom ancestors stretching back also 5,000 years, and surely they two of them will be hooking up with “family” as they criss-cross the post-communist uber-capitalist nation.

Is China in line to run the world for another 5,000 years, beginning around 2015? Mark wants to know.

So – cue the two-stringed erhu [二胡] – the man who famously said “I just [wish] that nobody made a movie of me while I was still alive” is soon to meet and greet his minders in China and see what’s up behind the Great Firewall. Maybe, with a few tweaks and security measures to his site, the Land of Mao will let Facebook in, for better or worse. But don’t bet on it.

This is a scouting mission. A public relations ploy. A dance card for his followers. Beijing is not going to budge. Freedom’s just another word that doesn’t need a Facebook link. Freedom’s a Western concept, anyway. No need for it in the Far East.

But will Zuckerberg’s PR talking points play well inside an internet-locked China?

Dear Leader Mark, who wants to connect the whole world, also wants in in Beijing, and he’s going there this month for a personal look to practice his newly acquired Mandarin skills.

”Ni hao, Zuckerberg-san?” Oh – that’s Japan.

While Facebook is banned inside Communist China, it does have free reign in democratic Taiwan, where internet censors do not control the net and thousands of happy Facebook fans are busy updating their walls and playing Farmville. In fact, Facebook pages are wildly popular on Isla Formosa with both local residents and expat residents.

But the other day, when a Yankee expat with a regular Facebook account tried to log on, he was notified by an automatic FB message that he needed to send his cellphone number by a secure route to Facebook HQ, where a four digit code would be sent to him by text message.

The gentleman was asked to go to a drop-down list of countries on Facebook to find the country he was in, and then send his international cellphone number to FB HQ. He had run into similar security issues in the past with Google and his Gmail accounts, and never had any trouble finding “Taiwan” on the list that Google sent him.

On scrolling through the drop-down list that FB had supplied, our friendly expat couldn’t find “Taiwan” anywhere. He looked again. Of course, there was no ”China” since China is not part of the FB Empire. But there was no  ‘Taiwan” either.

How could that be? He looked again, from A to Z. Nada. No “Taiwan”.

Under the “T” section, there was one nation listed: ”Thailand”. But no ”Taiwan”.

He searched again, but no ”Taiwan”, no UN-sanctioned “Chinese Taipei” and no China-sanctioned “Taiwan, China” or “Taiwan, Province of China.” Taiwan simply did not appear at all.

Stumped, he emailed the folks at Facebook. There has been no reply as of press. He also emailed Mark Zuckerberg’s personal email account. No reply.

Still stumped, our avuncular American expat in Taiwan resorted to posting a long note on his own Facebook wall in the hopes of getting some kind of reply. Nothing has come in so far.

Surely, not listing “Taiwan” on the dropdown listings on Facebook’s help and support pages is a mere sloppy oversight, and was not done to slight Taiwan, where millions of fans are FB members, chatting away in English, Chinese and Japanese, among other languages.

Mark? You there? Ever heard of Taiwan? Nice country just south of Japan, east of China, north of the Philippines? You might want to add its name to your dropdown support list of countries.

Anyway, ”Bottoms up” in Beijing! Break a leg!