PM Modi's debut on Weibo evokes mixed response - Alternative Media Forum


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Monday, 4 May 2015

PM Modi's debut on Weibo evokes mixed response

Beijing(PTI): Reaching out to Chinese people ahead of his first visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday made debut on 'Sina Weibo', becoming the first Indian leader to open an account on the popular Chinese miocroblogging site.

"Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo," Modi wrote in his first post in Chinese language on the platform -- which is akin to Twitter and Facebook -- evoking mixed response with majority welcoming his move, while a few posted comments backing China's claims over Arunachal Pradesh.

Over 25,000 people posted their comments to Modi's first post today. Indian officials said about 3.56 million people read his comments by afternoon on Sina Weibo which has over 500 million registered users. Weibo, meaning microblog has virtually become an alternative media to the China's state-run media. Weibo has emerged as the biggest social media platform in China as Twitter and Facebook are banned.

Modi followed up his first post with a second one later in the day highlighting the links forged by Buddhism between India and China its potential to make this century an Asian century. "I would like to convey my greetings to all of you on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. Today we remember the august ideals & mission of Lord Buddha, who spread the message of harmony & brotherhood & envisioned a peaceful world. Buddha is a binding force that connects us, Asian Nations. It can emerge as a strong unifying force to make this century an Asian Century."

Seasoned observers of Weibo said vast majority of users reacted with positive emoticons, while few others also wondered when the Chinese leaders themselves will open Weibo accounts to interact with people.
"Ha ha ha, Indian Prime Minister has opened an account on the Chinese Weibo," read one while another said "Xi Dada (nick name for Chinese President Xi Jijing) when would open a Weibo account?"

"Welcome to Weibo One more international personality joined Weibo," read one post. Several international leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron joined Weibo to step up interaction with Chinese people. "Prime Minister Modi Welcome to China, we two neighbours have something good to discuss...sooner or later, the world is ours, you say," another post said.

"India's prime minister, hello! Hope that during your administration, we can push to solve the problem about the border territory. So that there will be more trust and healthy development between our two countries. Common prosperity," said one. There are also few posts highlighting China's claims over Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as Southern Tibet.

"Southern Tibet is China's, Thank you," said one post while another said "Welcome Welcome but Southern Tibet is China's". Modi is expected to make his first visit to China from May 14 to 16 as Prime Minister, though he was regular visitor to Beijing when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

During his visit, he is due to visit Xian, Beijing and Shanghai and hold extensive talks with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. A social media savvy leader is well adept at making use of Twitter back home and he is expected to increase his posts in the coming days. Officials here expect that like elsewhere in the world, Modi's social media outreach in China is expected to enlarge and draw far bigger response.

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