UPDATE 2-LinkedIn jumpstarts China expansion with Chinese language site

Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:57pm EST
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By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO Feb 24 (Reuters) - Professional social networking website LinkedIn Corp launched a Chinese language version of its website on Monday, a move that could jumpstart its expansion into the world's largest Internet market by users even as the company acknowledged it will have to police what some of them say on its website.

LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner acknowledged in a blog post on Monday that the company would have to censor some of the content that users post on its website in order to comply with Chinese rules.

But Weiner said the benefits of providing its online service to people in China outweighed those concerns. He vowed that the company would be "transparent" about its practices as it builds its presence in a country it said is home to one in five of the "knowledge workers" that are LinkedIn's core audience.

Shares of LinkedIn were roughly flat in after-hours trading on Monday at $199.49. The stock is down roughly 23 percent from its 52 week-high of $257.56 as investors fret about two consecutive quarters of declines in its page views.

"Extending our service in China raises difficult questions, but it is clear to us that the decision to proceed is the right one," Weiner said.

Foreign Internet companies face difficulties operating in China. Beijing censors sensitive terms from the Internet and blocks social networks Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc , a widespread effort that analysts say is geared towards maintaining the Communist Party's hold on power and preserving social stability.

LinkedIn's arguments about trade-offs for the greater good are reminiscent of Google's justification for its controversial 2006 decision to launch a self-censored version of its search service in China.   Continued...