HONG KONG: Twitter, the social networking site, will join rivals Facebook and Google in Hong Kong when it sets up a new office early next year, the company's vice-president for Asia Pacific has said.

Like its fellow US media firms, Twitter has been blocked in China over government fears that it could be used as a tool for organising dissent, yet it has decided it wants to go ahead and build partnerships with local advertisers.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Shailesh Rao explained that the office is likely to open in the first quarter of 2015 and staff will concentrate on sales and building relationships with agencies and brands.

He identified leading Chinese tech companies as potential advertisers, including Huawei, Xiaomi – the country's fastest growing smartphone vendor – as well as Lenovo and Alibaba, the giant ecommerce retailer.

"The real main focus of the office will be sales. Building sales capability to work with agencies and advertisers domestically in Hong Kong and Taiwan and those Chinese advertisers looking to go global," he said.

Separately, an unnamed Twitter representative went further, telling TechCrunch: "With half of all internet, mobile and social media users worldwide in Asia today, we see many opportunities across the region.

"APAC is the growth engine for the company and we are expanding into more markets to reach new users, partners and advertisers."

Twitter currently has regional offices in Seoul, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo, and has also announced plans to open an office in Jakarta.

Overseas markets are important for the San Francisco-based company because 77% of its 284m users are based outside the US. However, only 34% of its revenue comes from non-US markets and Twitter wants that share to increase.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch; additional content by Warc staff