PM Modi debuts on Weibo, told Arunachal belongs to China | india | Hindustan Times
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PM Modi debuts on Weibo, told Arunachal belongs to China

Ahead of his crucial visit to China next week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has joined Chinese social media platform 'Sina Weibo' in another push to his digital diplomacy.

india Updated: May 05, 2015 11:36 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Prime-Minister-Narendra-Modi-has-joined-Sina-Weibo-a-social-media-platform-with-over-500-million-users
Prime-Minister-Narendra-Modi-has-joined-Sina-Weibo-a-social-media-platform-with-over-500-million-users

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his debut on Chinese social media platform Weibo on Monday amid welcoming comments by many Chinese users but also by some who remarked that Arunachal Pradesh — known as South Tibet in China — belongs to Beijing.

Modi’s debut on Weibo, a cross between Twitter and Facebook, comes ahead of his three-day visit to China starting May 14. His first comment was published around noon in Chinese: “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo.” He quickly gained thousands of followers and thousands more shared his message across the microblogging site.

Many Chinese users, however, were quick to bring up the long-standing border dispute between the two nations. “Welcome to China, but you have to know that south Tibet belongs to China,” said one user, echoing the Chinese government’s official stand. “You are very brave. Let’s discuss the south Tibet problem,” said another user.

While some users wanted to verify whether the account actually belonged to Modi, few others advised him to “work hard on women’s rights”. Some were curious as to how Modi was writing in Chinese. It remains to be seen whether the Chinese government — which uses layers of censorship on the internet known as the Great Firewall of China — allows all kinds of comments on Modi’s page to be published especially in the run-up to and during his visit.

Interestingly, opening a Weibo account has allowed Modi to skirt the issue of internet censorship in China. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are among thousands of sites blocked here.

Modi is an avid user of Twitter and often announces important decisions through his tweets. It could have caused a diplomatic flutter had he used Twitter through proxy networks to talk about his high-profile visit.

“Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi made a debut on the Chinese social media platform, Weibo. This is first of a kind attempt by any leader across India,” said an official statement from the Indian embassy here.

Welcoming the Indian PM’s debut on Weibo, professor Fang Ning, director at the elite Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told HT that Modi could be a “bridge” between the people of India and China.

A handful of Chinese internet companies have Weibo platforms. Modi has joined the one with most followers, Sina Weibo. In his second message of the day, Modi extended Buddha Purnima wishes.

“Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi made a debut on the Chinese social media platform, Weibo. This is first of a kind attempt by any leader across India,” said an official statement from the Indian embassy in Beijing.