Mark Zuckerberg’s 22-minute Mandarin speech at Tsinghua University shows he speaks more fluently than you
Facebook is still blocked in China though.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke in Mandarin for more than 20 minutes on Oct. 24, 2015, at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
In his speech, he complimented the nation and even used a Chinese idiom to audience applause.
Zuckerberg, who joined the board of the university’s economics school last year, was quick to praise the university for being a “center of innovation.”
Tsinghua University, a state university, has been nicknamed the M.I.T. of China.
He took the opportunity to speak about Facebook’s story, its underlying first principles and mission, which was to connect people globally and encouraged the audience not to give up on challenges — a highly self-referential point that reflected the social media giant’s repeated attempts trying to break through the Great Firewall of China.
His facility with the Chinese language has been well-documented, but his willingness to speak the difficult language in public imperfectly for the first time has been viewed as a calculated move to push for Facebook to make inroads into the Chinese market.
Currently, Facebook remains blocked in China.
Here is the video of Mark Zuckerberg speaking in Mandarin:
Here is Zuckerberg’s full Tsinghua University speech in Mandarin transcribed into English:
Thank you Dean Qian and hello everyone! [Applause]
It’s an honour to be here. Tsinghua is a great school. The community here is working on many innovative and important things. And you are the future leaders in technology, business, government and other fields.
Today I want to talk about changing the world. Lots of people can tell you about how to build a business and how to solve problems.
Today I want to focus on a different question. Not “how” but “why” you should build.
This is the essence of leading with a mission.
I want to tell you three stories. Just three stories. [Applause]
The first story is about believing in a mission. It’s about doing something you think is important.
I started Facebook in 2004 because I thought it was important to be able to connect with people online.
At the time, I used the Internet and there were products to find almost anything I wanted — news, music, books, things to buy — but there was no service to look up the thing that matters most to us — people.
People are the most important thing in our lives. Please take a look around this room, what do you see? It’s not the tables or the chairs, you focus on the people. That’s what makes us human.
Every person wants to connect with their friends and family. When we can share and connect, life gets better. When we connect and share, we build closer relationships with the people we love. We build stronger businesses because we can communicate better with customers. We build a stronger society because people know more.
When I started Facebook, I did not want to build a business.
I wanted to solve a problem. I thought it was important. I wanted to help connect people.
When I look at great Chinese companies today, like Alibaba and Xiami, I see the same stories.
When you have a mission, it helps you focus.
A few years after I founded Facebook, we made a big change. We launched News Feed — a product that showed you all the updates from your friends and made it easier to connect.
News Feed may seem like a good idea now, but many people did not like it then. At the time, only about one million people used Facebook and 100,000 of them joined groups saying they would quit if we did not bring back the old Facebook. That was 10 percent of our community. Today it would be like 150 million people telling us they were going to quit.
No good. [Laughter]
[6min 23 sec]
We care about what people think. But we also know that connecting people is important. Most companies would be afraid of losing so many people, so they take the easy path and give in.
But we believe in our mission. We knew News Feed was important for our mission, so we stayed strong. Today, News Feed is a very important part of the world’s social media.
My second story is about caring. If you know your mission, you don’t need to know the entire plan going forward. You just need to care more.
When I was a student at Harvard, every night I would eat pizza with my friends and talk about the future. I remember clearly talking to my friends one night after launching the first version of Facebook at Harvard. I remember being happy that we were connecting students, but thinking that one day someone else would build a product that connected the entire world.
The interesting thing is I did not even think I might build this product. I was just a college student. I thought a big company like Microsoft or Google would build this. They had thousands of engineers and hundreds of millions of users. They should have built the social network for the world.
Why didn’t they?
I think about this often. We were just college students. We didn’t have a plan. We had no resources. How did we build the biggest community in the world with more than 1.5 billion people?
We just cared more.
At every step of the journey, people doubt new ideas will work.
We faced many problems and had to change many times. We started off as a small service for students in America.
At first, people said: “That’s just for students, so it will never be important.” But we kept going and then we made Facebook open to everyone.
Then they said: “Okay, it’s more than students now but people will stop using it soon.” But we kept going and people kept using it because connecting is important.
Then they said: “Maybe it works in the US, but it won’t work internationally.” But we kept going and expanded internationally.
Then they said: “Social media will never make money.”
But we kept going and we built a strong business.
And then they said: “This won’t work on mobile.” But we kept going and today, we are a mobile first company. [Applause]
We did not know the answers to these problems upfront. Nobody did.
The reason we were able to keep going was because we cared.
Many others were working on social media, but these problems scared them.
We knew that social media and connecting the world were important. We knew that even if we didn’t know all the answers, we could continue helping people and connecting people.
We just cared more. We kept working hard, and now, 1.5 billion people use Facebook. [Applause]
Don’t give up because you have to change. There is a Chinese proverb I like that says, “As long as you work hard, a piece of metal can become a needle.” [Applause]
Keep working hard and you can change the world.
My third story is about looking ahead.
Jack Ma has a great quote I often use. “Compare to 15 years ago, we’re big. Compared to 15 years from now, we’re still a baby.”
For important missions, the more you learn, the more you find needs to be done.
Ten years ago, our goal was to connect 1 billion people.
No Internet service had done this and we thought this was a big goal.
As we reached this goal, we started to understand that 1 billion is just a number and our real goal is to connect everyone in the world.
This is much harder. Almost two-thirds of the world doesn’t even have the Internet. To connect them, we have to grow the whole Internet.
To do this, we need to solve many problems. More than one billion people don’t live near networks, so we need to invent new technology — like satellites and planes — to connect them.
More than one billion people don’t have enough money to pay for Internet, so we need to make it cheaper.
About two billion people have never used a computer or the Internet before, so we need to build new programmes to help them connect for the first time.
Three years ago, we founded Internet.org to spread the Internet.
I told Facebook board of directors that I thought we should spend billions of dollars on this initiative. They asked me how will this make money?
I told them: I don’t know.
But I do know that connect people is our mission and it’s important. We must always look ahead, and even if we don’t know the whole plan now, if we help people, then in the future we will benefit too.
This is the meaning of looking ahead. With each step, you can do new things.
Challenges that once seemed impossible now seem possible. Now you will also face hard challenges and by working hard, you will also solve these problems. Always look ahead.
Chinese history is a story of constant innovation. China gave the world four great inventions: Paper, printing, the compass and gunpowder. [Applause]
Learning is the key to innovation. You all have an amazing opportunity at Tsinghua to learn and reach your full potential.
A few years ago, my wife Priscilla worked at a hospital at Beijing. She chose to work in Beijing because she wanted to be in China and she wanted to learn from great instructors.
My Chinese isn’t very good, but I still love learning Mandarin.
I also like talking with my Chinese co-workers. When you learn, you will innovate in your own life and you will innovate in your business. You will be able to innovate in anything you do.
But before you start anything, don’t just ask yourself how you’re going to do it. Ask why?
You should believe in your mission. Solve important problems. Care deeply about them. Don’t give up. And always look ahead.
You will be global leaders. You can make life better for people in China and around the world. And you can use the Internet to reach billions of people.
I’m very excited to have this opportunity to speak to the Tsinghua community and to everyone watching on livestream.
Thank you for giving me the chance to speak.
Let’s come together to connect the world.
Top photo via Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook