Twitter opens Hong Kong office despite being banned

Even though Twitter is blocked in mainland China, the micro-blogging company has decided to go ahead and open an office there anyway.

The office will be headed by Twitter executive Peter Greenberger, Reuters reports, adding that the San Francisco company wants to tap China for ad revenue, even though internet users in the mainland can’t even see them.

Twitter has been banned in China since 2009, together with Facebook, and YouTube.

Beijing officials say these bans are necessary to maintain social order. Twitter has been largely credited for the success of the Arab spring, a movement which toppled many governments in the Middle East including Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, and even pushed Syria into civil war.

Despite the ban, Chinese companies including Huawei and the state-owned Xinhua news agency use Twitter's microblogging service to reach a global audience.

Twitter collected $479 million in fourth-quarter revenue from advertisers who paid to inject their ads, known as "promoted tweets", into Twitter users' timelines. The company has 288 million users worldwide.

Late last year, the micro-blogging site announced it will be opening the China office.

Back then, Twitter said the office will enable the firm to implement the next phase of its Asian expansion programme by targeting greater China.

“Our upcoming Hong Kong office in the first quarter will enable us to pursue strategic opportunities in Greater China, such as China export advertising market, Hong Kong and Taiwan advertising markets, media partnerships, and our new Twitter Fabric integrated with MoPub for mobile developers.”