LinkedIn goes to China

The online resume site LinkedIn wants to make inroads in China.

On Monday, the Web company announced a major expansion into the world’s second-largest economy with plans to create a simplified Chinese site and add more than 140 million people to its network.

“Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals and create greater economic opportunity — and this is a significant step towards achieving that goal,” Derek Shen, the company’s president for China, wrote in a blog post.

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LinkedIn’s English version has been available in China for more than a decade, and there are about 4 million people currently signed up. But LinkedIn thinks that’s just a drop in the bucket of what is possible.

The decision is a big step for an American Web company. Major Silicon Valley firms have been reticent to break into the emerging market, which offers half a billion Internet users but is also known for online censorship dubbed the “Great Firewall.”

“LinkedIn strongly supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship,” Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, wrote on the site. 

“At the same time, we also believe that LinkedIn’s absence in China would deny Chinese professionals a means to connect with others on our global platform, thereby limiting the ability of individual Chinese citizens to pursue and realize the economic opportunities, dreams and rights most important to them.”

Weiner added that the site’s content will be censored "only when and to the extent required,” and that it will be transparent about how it does business in the country.

The site already has 227 million existing members and, with the addition of simplified Chinese, operates in 22 languages.