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Zuckerberg: Three reasons I learned to speak Chinese (in Chinese)

Mark Zuckerberg set the internet ablaze Thursday morning when he posted a video of himself speaking Mandarin at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

"On Wednesday I did my first ever public Q&A in Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing! We discussed connecting the world, internet.org, innovation and the early days of Facebook," Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

Earlier this week, Zuckerberg joined the advisory board of the university's School of Economics and Management. He appeared as part of a dialog between board members and students, coinciding with the 2014 advisory board meeting.

The moderator introduced Zuckerberg in English to a round of polite applause. Then Zuckerberg surprised and delighted the audience by responding in Chinese, "Hello, everybody," eliciting friendly laughter and enthusiastic hoots and hollers.

After a brief bit of banter about liking Beijing, Zuckerberg fielded the question of why he decided to study Chinese. He had three reasons, he said.

"The first reason is: My wife is Chinese. Her whole family is Chinese. Her grandmother speaks only Chinese," Zuckerberg said, to coos and more laughter and applause. When he told her grandmother, in Chinese, that they were going to get married, she was very happy, he continued.

The second reason he gave was that he used learning the language as a way to learn about Chinese culture. (Zuckerberg peppered the dialog with savvy references to what a strong, powerful country China is.)

He struggled slightly before listing his final reason, exclaiming, "The People's Language [Mandarin] is really hard!" He went on to say that he only spoke English before and liked the challenge of learning Chinese.

From there, Zuckerberg seemed to hit his stride, handily discussing his visits to countries without Internet while promoting his internet.org mission to connect the world, and advising future entrepreneurs to do what they're most interested in.

Then, the moderator lobbed him a softball: "What is your favorite color?"

"Blue, because Facebook is blue," Zuckerberg answered, bringing down the house.

  • Amanda Schupak

    Amanda Schupak is the science and technology editor at CBSNews.com