A photo of Mark Zuckerberg with a copy of Chinese President Xi Jinping's book on governance at his desk is creating quite a stir after a Chinese government news portal released it today. The Facebook founder was hosting a top Internet regulator from China, known for tight censorship. Zuckerberg, who has long sought market access to China, where Facebook is blocked, was quoted by China.com.cn as saying he purchased several copies of Xi's book so he and colleagues could learn about "socialism with Chinese characteristics." The gesture, interpreted as an effort by Zuckerberg to court the government, disappointed and angered activists in China, who have long held the social networking company in high regard for its ability to share information beyond the controls of the ruling Communist Party.
"Mr. Zuckerberg is either ignorant of China's politics or shameless," said prominent dissident Hu Jia, who called the regulator, Lu Wei, a top enemy of Internet freedom and expressed worry that tech giants such as Facebook were kowtowing to Beijing for their own business interests. China.com.cn said the photo was taken at Facebook's Menlo Park office and that Xi's book, The Governance of China, was at Zuckerberg's workstation when he hosted Lu. The photo shows a beaming Lu sitting in Zuckerberg's work chair, with the Facebook founder smiling and standing next to him. "I feel ashamed for Facebook and sorry for Mr. Zuckerberg," said Hu. "When you yield to the executioners of the Internet, they will only become more arrogant." (Read more Mark Zuckerberg stories.)