Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Virtual Popularity

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao not only have FaceBook pages with thousands of friends, but also an Internet portal dedicated to them and other top officials from the national down to local levels.

Called the PRC Officials' Fan Circle, it already has pages focused on the top leaders of three provinces, six cities, and even Hong Kong.

Thirty-three-year-old Yang Yunhe calls himself the first creator of a politician fan site in China.

The site covers the party secretaries of Zhejiang, Shaanxi and Guangdong provinces, as well as Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

Fans can leave admiring comments for the leaders, and even gives them opportunities to upload pictures they've snapped of China's top leadership and post stories.

An article on the fan site gave Hu 98 for a recent speech he gave, but suggested he should smile more.

But despite the Internet being a platform for top officials to engage with the people, none of the featured leaders on the site have responded to their fan mail.

Nevertheless, considering some use the Internet to expose officials' abuse of power or corrupt activities, knowing that there are millions of fans out there supporting the leadership couldn't hurt either.

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