Twitter appoints new executive to oversee Asia-Pacific expansion despite China ban

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 August, 2015, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 August, 2015, 5:39pm

Twitter has appointed a Singapore-based senior executive to grow its Asia-Pacific business, after it opened an office in Hong Kong in March to court Chinese brands targeting Western consumers. 

Rishi Jaitly will oversee the company's expansion in key markets like Australia, India and Japan, as well as Greater China and Southeast Asia, Twitter said in a statement on Tuesday.

Jaitly was previously its market director for India and Southeast Asia.

The microblogging site will now push for more content partnerships in the region and the Middle East, it added.

Twitter faces the same regional hurdle in Asia as other major global social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube as it is blocked in mainland China. It has been banned since 2009..

However, the brand is "very strong in markets that Chinese companies are targeting," Peter Greenberger, Twitter's sales director for emerging markets, told the Post in March.

"We think this [Hong Kong] office will help connect Chinese companies to the world."

Greenberger said the company's main targets would be "big advertisers looking to reach overseas".

This sentiment was echoed by Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice president of Asia-Pacific, Latin America and emerging markets, during a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Shanghai in May.

Without mentioning censorship, Rao outlined Twitter's potential benefits for Chinese brands in helping them reach a wider audience.

He highlighted e-commerce giant Alibaba, national flagship carrier Air China and China’s top smartphone vendor Xiaomi as three examples of Chinese companies that are using Twitter to help build their brands overseas.

"We're seeing Chinese companies extend to reach audiences around the world [and] Twitter can be ... the bridge to do that," he said.

Despite the official ban, China’s state media have embraced Twitter.

News agency Xinhua, state broadcaster CCTV and top Party mouthpieces like the People's Daily and Global Times all have active Twitter accounts, which they use to publish content in various languages.

Twitter claims to have more than 315 million monthly active users, around 75 per cent of which are based outside the US. It does not release user figures by country.