U.S.-based social media giant Facebook has been "quietly" looking for office space in Shanghai, as part of the company's plans to expand its business in China, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing two unidentified sources close to the matter.
Those offices would be used for hardware manufacturing and for helping the company's "broader ambition in China," said the report. The plans are tentative and depend on approval from the Chinese government.
Facebook had not responded to an interview request by the Global Times as of press time.
The New York Times report quoted a Facebook spokeswoman as saying that the company is "interested in China" and "is spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways."
This would not be the first time for Facebook to expand its hardware presence in China. Facebook in 2014 bought virtual reality company Oculus, which set up a Shanghai office at that time, Beijing-based news site huxiu.com reported on Thursday.
"Facebook may then realize the huge potential of the Chinese market and an abundant supply of Chinese talent," said the report, citing experts.
The Shanghai office this time would first be used by Facebook's new hardware team, called Building 8, said the New York Times report, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
It would handle everything related to "coordination with Chinese producers and assemblers, mostly located in the southern part of the country," for Internet-connected medical devices and drones, making the social networking platform work better with local companies.
Facebook released a photo-sharing mobile application, named Colorful Balloons, in the country in May. Facebook authorized a local Chinese company to launch the app, which is similar to the Chinese-language version of Facebook's Moments application.
The Chinese mainland market remains appealing to Facebook for many reasons, said the New York Times. For example, the social network platform can sell advertising to Chinese companies that hope to expand into other global markets. Ad sales from the mainland have been "some of the largest in Asia," the article said.