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Oscar Williams

News editor

Mark Zuckerberg: breaking up Facebook would aid less cooperative Chinese rivals

Mark Zuckerberg has defended Facebook against claims that it should be broken up to make way for greater competition in the social media market.

In a wide-ranging interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, the social network’s CEO said a move to curb the company’s power would play into the hands of less cooperative Chinese rivals.

“They do not share the values that we have,” Zuckerberg warned. “I think you can bet that if the government hears word that it’s election interference or terrorism, I don’t think Chinese companies are going to wanna cooperate as much and try to aid the national interest there.”

The response marks a new line of defence for Zuckerberg. Grilled over Facebook’s size earlier this year by Congress, the 34-year-old billionaire argued that Facebook faces competition on several fronts.

Its biggest competitor in the digital advertising space is Google, with which it shares more than half of the market’s revenues. But it faces no direct competitor in the social media space and has been criticised for buying and copying some of its smaller rivals.

Zuckerberg’s argument is likely to appeal to the Trump administration. It blocked Broadcom’s attempted takeover of Qualcomm earlier this year on the grounds that it could give an edge to Chinese chipmakers. Last week, Trump lifted a trade ban on Chinese telecoms giant ZTE, but with a stringent list of terms and conditions attached.

Zuckerberg told Swisher Facebook is “a long time away from doing anything” with China, but that cracking the country was key to its mission of bringing the world closer together. “We need to figure out a solution that is in line with our principles and what we wanna do, and in line with the laws there, or else it’s not gonna happen,” he said. “Right now, there isn’t an intersection.”