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Web China: Leadership fan blogs emerge


07:56, February 21, 2013

Related reading: Xi Jinping fan microblog triggers curiosity

BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- A Xi Jinping-centric microblog wowed netizens early this month by releasing information on the Chinese leader's inspection tour of Gansu Province even before official media reports emerged.

Entries on the "Xuexifensituan" ("Learning from Xi Fan Club") account are often written in a tabloid style, with brief, declarative statements tracing the movements of the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Mysteriously enough, the posts on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter, appear to contain exclusive material and always come ahead of official media reports.

The person behind "Xuexifensituan," a 28-year-old interior decorator in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, came forward on Feb. 10. He refused to disclose any more personal information at that time, but promised to hold a public interview on or after Thursday.

Meanwhile, the popularity of "Xuexifensituan" has given rise to other accounts devoted to offering news and information on top leaders, including personal details that are traditionally withheld from the public.

Among them, "Xianglixuexi" ("Learning from Li"), a Sina Weibo account about Vice Premier Li Keqiang, had attracted 2,000 followers on Wednesday alone, bringing the total to 10,000 followers as of Wednesday evening.

Various pieces of information regarding Vice Premier Li have been posted on the microblog, including samples of his handwriting, rarely seen photos that go all the way back to his childhood and a picture of the latest book by his wife, an English professor.

Li's wife, Cheng Hong, is referred to as "Sister Cheng" in the microblog and one entry offered details on her educational background.

More notably, the microblog relays some of Li's spontaneous, off-the-cuff quotes and showcases the moments when he seems most accessible.

During Li's inspection tour of Enshi, Hubei Province, he stopped by a clothing shop and inquired about taxes and administration fees the owner had to pay. When the shop owner tried to downplay his tax and fee burdens, according to one microblog entry, Li said, "I am not your tax officer, you can tell me the truth."

After a playful young boy unwittingly rose to fame for appearing pantsless in a primetime news broadcast while Li visited his home, the vice premier was praised for breaking from tradition and carrying out truly unplanned inspections.

The "Xianglixuexi" account later revealed some of the little boy's personal information and posted a photo of the boy and his family to wish netizens a happy new year.

"Xianglixuexi" crept into limelight behind "Xuexifensituan," the microblog account on Xi Jinping's activities that has attracted almost 1 million followers since it was started in November.

Neither "Xuexifensituan" nor "Xianglixuexi" feature a "V" emblem given to microblogs after Sina Weibo has verified the user's identity.

The only clues about the person behind "Xianglixuexi" can be found in the profile details -- she is a woman from Beijing.

In an interview with Beijing Times, the "Xianglixuexi" user chose not to reveal her identity, saying her background does not matter, but the public response to her microblog does.

She said she started the account in response to people's expectations for the new leaders' governance styles. [ The "Xianglixuexi" user added that several new moves following the election of the new leadership, such as efforts to publicize their personal stories, have raised netizen's expectations for top leaders to open their own microblogs.

She also asserted that her microblog service had not been interrupted by authorities. "The very existence of my microblog shows the ever-more transparent political environment today."

Similar microblogs also include "Xizongfensituan" ("Fan Club of Boss Xi"), which alleged in one entry that Xi's daughter left Harvard to return to China for school, and "Qiangqiangfensituan" ("Fan Club of Qiangqiang," Li Keqiang's two-syllable nickname).

Experts say the popularity of the leadership fan microblogs shows that the public expects a more transparent government.

Wang Yukai, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said he believes these microblogs have sprung up because the new leadership's reform measures have prompted greater public interest in the leadership.

The emergence of fan clubs shows that the public approves of the new leadership, as well as their political ideas and reform measures, Wang said.

Furthermore, Wang said such microblogs allow the public to get to know their leaders better and offer a more accessible, non-official channel for disclosing information that may be unsuitable for official news releases.

Zhang Zhi'an, an expert on new media analysis at Sun Yat-sen University, suggested such microblogs be more prudent with their reports or reveal the sources of their information, as they have become influential social media tools.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:WangJinxue、Zhang Qian)

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