Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday became the first head of the nation to go online to chat with citizens through a major news portal of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The "Qiangguo Forum", which originates from a virtual reality community launched by www.people.com.cn, the mouthpiece of the CPC, has been a big hit since the news of Hu going online surfaced.
Thousands of people posted their queries and write-ins on the forum soon after it was known that the president was going to chat with them.
"The Internet is a major channel for public opinion," Hu said during the chat.
"I am squeezing in time to go on-line, though I cannot surf the web every day due to my busy workload," Hu said in answer to a question.
The Qiangguo Forum was a "must-visit" website, Hu said, suggesting netizens visit the forum regularly.
"I log on to view domestic and foreign news, to learn what interests people on the Internet and to solicit their advice and opinions about the work of our government and Party," said Hu in response to posts about his online habit.
"I am very much concerned about some of the problems and opinions raised," he said in the 20-minute conversation. "We must listen to the people and lean on their wisdom to do a good job."
China had the world's most net users with 221 million as of February 2008, outnumbering that of the US.
The CPC's website had created a community asking people worldwide to lodge their protests against the US-led NATO forces' bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade May 9, 1999.
It was renamed June 19 to the Qiangguo Forum, which has the literal meaning of "powering the nation". It has more than 23,000 daily postings and the highest simultaneous webpage visits exceeded 1.4 million.