Have a ‘strong sense of mission’, urges Facebook founder Zuckerberg in first Mandarin speech for Chinese students

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 October, 2015, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 October, 2015, 9:04pm

Instead of rush to make quick money, young entrepreneurs should focus on having a strong sense of mission when starting a business, said Mark Zuckerberg in his speech at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing, as the Facebook founder and CEO tries to expand his business into the world's largest Internet market.

Zuckerberg, who was appointed to the advisory board of Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management last October, gave a speech entirely in Mandarin at a student dialogue event at the university on Saturday, which immediately generated a buzz among Chinese netizens who praised him for his fast-improving Mandarin Chinese skills.

In his speech, Zuckerberg revealed his mission for Facebook and encouraged Chinese students to work hard to ‘change the world’.

“When you have a mission, it helps you focus,” said Zuckerberg, who first impressed the world with his language skills last October when he conducted a short question and answer session in Mandarin at Tsinghua University.

Right after his first formal speech at Tsinghua on Saturday, Zuckerberg posted a video of his 20-minute long speech on Facebook, accompanied by a post detailing his experience.

I just gave my first ever speech in Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing -- on why you need a strong sense of...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday, 24 October 2015


“I just gave my first ever speech in Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing,” he wrote.

“This was also my first real speech in any language sharing how I started thinking about Facebook’s mission, what has kept me going through challenging times and what our mission means now looking ahead for our community of 1.5 billion people.”

In Zuckerberg’s speech, he shared that he did not start Facebook as a business. Instead, he wanted to solve a more important problem – to help connect people.

“How did we build the biggest community in the world? We just cared more,” he said.

“At every step of the journey, people doubt new ideas will work … Even if we didn’t know all the answers, we could continue helping and connecting people,” he urged. “Don’t give up [just] because you have to change.”

In his speech, the 31-year-old American paid homage to Alibaba founder Jack Ma, citing Ma’s quote – “Compared to 15 years ago, we’re big. Compared to 15 years from now, we’re still a baby.” – as applicable to Facebook.

Zuckerberg also tipped his hat towards ‘great’ Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Xiaomi, whom he believes also share a strong sense of mission.

The entrepreneur’s determination to master Mandarin has also be regarded by pundits as an effort towards softening China’s stance against the social media giant. The marked improvement in Zuckerberg’s Mandarin skills over the last year did not go unnoticed by Chinese netizens.

“[Zuckerberg] has attained this level of speaking after learning Mandarin for just a year … it is obvious his achievements today are definitely not by chance,” said one user on Twitter-like Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.

“He is so brave to speak entirely in Mandarin. His level of Mandarin has certainly improved very quickly!” said another Weibo user

In September, Zuckerberg chatted with Xi Jinping in the Chinese president’s native tongue at a US-China internet forum in Seattle.

It comes as no surprise that Facebook is attempting to court the Chinese market, despite being blocked in Mainland China since 2009. At the end of June 2015, China has 667 million Internet users, representing about a fifth of global online users, according to statistics by China Internet Watch.

In 2011, the company set up an office in Hong Kong to woo Chinese advertisers who hope to promote to international markets via Facebook ads.