Modi joins Chinese networking site Weibo

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New Delhi: Going where no Indian Prime Minister has ventured before, Narendra Modi on Monday, 4 May joined China’s main microblogging service Weibo, gaining thousands of followers by the hour. Mr Modi a known social media user, with 12 million followers on Twitter alone, and a prominent presence on Facebook, said, “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo.

” Sina Weibo, a company listed on Nasdaq and part-owned by Alibaba, is a leading e-commerce company. Modi’s entry on the platform comes just weeks before his scheduled visit to China. While he got mostly welcoming responses from Chinese users, posts calling for India to return territory to China were also popular. Mr Modi’s entry on Weibo is seen to be part of the many preparations that are underway in both India and China to make his official visit to China a success. In just five hours after joining, he amassed more than 20,000 followers, with more joining in. Offering a glimpse into the themes that excited and exercised his new Chinese audience in the few hours his account has been in existence, thousands reportedly posted welcoming messages for Mr Modi. Some invited him to visit their home provinces in China, while others expressed hope of greater Sino-Indian co-operation. “China and India are the countries that have the biggest influence in Asia and are fast developing nations. There is no reason why we can’t advance together,” wrote one user.

Others took the opportunity to respond in English using the literal translation of the Chinese greeting “ni hao ma”, which means “how are you?” and sometimes came out as “Are you OK?” As India celebrates Buddha’s birthday on 4 May, Mr Modi’s second post referenced Buddhism and unity in Asia. There are believed to be many adherents to Buddhism in China. It is estimated that about 18% of China’s population are Buddhist. Modi’s message read: “I wish everyone happiness on Buddha’s Birthday. Today we remember Buddha’s ideals and commands, he preached the ideals of harmony and brotherhood and had a vision of a peaceful world. Buddhism is a unifying force across Asian countries. It can be one form of strong cohesion as the world enters the Asian era.” Huang Xilian, deputy director general of Asian affairs, had said at a briefing to Indian media about Modi’s visit which is expected to take place in the third week of next month that, “There are lot of perceptions about border issue. So long as the two leaderships have strong political will we have good prospects for the resolution of the border issue.” He also said progress has been made in recent Special Representatives (SR) talks held in New Delhi. 

However, offering an insight into the Chinese people’s view on the issue, the most popular responses (which garnered the most number of “likes”) were on the area India calls Arunachal Pradesh. China disputes the region and considers it a part of South Tibet, called Zangnan. The top five replies to Mr Modi on Monday, all called for India to give back the territory, which was ceded to India in 1962 following a border conflict. “Zangnan belongs to China”, and “Welcome, welcome! By the way, Zangnan is ours,” were among the responses.

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