Micro-blogging platform Twitter may be eyeing a re-launch of its service in China, as the company's CEO Dick Costolo is visiting the Asian country for the first time.
Costolo is scheduled to meet Shanghai government officials, academics and students during his three-day tour of China's business capital. He will not visit the country's capital Beijing.
He will also meet representatives of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone, which was established in 2013, to test liberalised business norms for foreign companies.
There had been reports that China will allow the operations of foreign websites including Facebook and Twitter, which are blocked on the mainland due to security reasons, within the Shanghai free-trade zone.
However, officials have denied the reports on loosening internet restrictions and censorship of politically sensitive websites in the free trade area.
China's communist party-led government strictly monitors the internet in the country. It often deletes posts and blocks websites which promote anti-government sentiment.
The deadly riots in the Chinese province of Xinjiang in mid-2009 resulted in the blocking of popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter in the country. The authorities claimed that the riots were influenced by the sites.
News websites, The New York Times and Bloomberg, were also blocked in China, after they alleged in 2012 that the family of then-Premier Wen Jiabao had gained a huge fortune from his top position.
In addition, internet giant Google ended its China operations in 2010 as the company was unwilling to accept strict government regulations.
Costolo's trip has raised speculation that the company is planning a second-coming in the world's largest internet market with about 600 million users.
Twitter Denies Business Plans
In a statement to Reuters, Twitter played down on what Costolo will be discussing in China, saying its chief wants to understand more about the country's technology sector.
"Dick is visiting China because he wants to learn more about Chinese culture and the country's thriving technology sector," a Twitter spokesman said.
The company, which recently went public in the US, has rejected the possibility of opening an office anytime soon in China and Costolo is not expected to ask Chinese authorities to lift the Twitter ban, Reuters added.
In China, Costolo will also meet university administrators and participate in a round-table discussion with students at Fudan University in Shanghai.