Maduro offers online updates on China visit

Updated: 2013-09-23 07:16

By Pu Zhendong (China Daily)

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The words from a world leader could have come from a news briefing in Beijing. Instead, they were created on Sina Weibo.

"My trip in China has started. Thinking of the strategic alliance of the 21st century founded by the great Chavez," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wrote on his micro blog in Chinese on Saturday.

Maduro, who created his account on Sept 16, became the latest luminary and the first current head of state to keep a Chinese micro blog. His frequently updated micro blog, which had 35 posts by late Sunday, has already attracted more than 40,000 followers.

Maduro's introduction describes him as "the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela", with a profile picture of him waving in front of an enthusiastic crowd, and a background picture of him and deceased former leader Hugo Chavez smiling together.

The micro blog says that Maduro is building up Venezuela with a "highly efficient revolution" and that he shared a "father-son-like affection" with Chavez.

"It took two days for Sina to verify the president's account," said Liu Qingli, chief editor of the News Center with Sina Weibo.

Unlike some "China hands", such as former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, who can write their own posts, Maduro's account is run and updated by a special team.

Maduro offers online updates on China visit

"The real-name account is currently operated and maintained by a team of three or four. The daughter of the Venezuelan ambassador to China is also one of the main writers," Liu said.

"On my way to China. It is harvest time for our brotherly relations. Let's celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. Let moonlight shine our paths," Maduro wrote on Friday before embarking on his visit to Beijing.

The account kept posting news and pictures about Maduro's meetings with Chinese business leaders and details of the cooperation agreements on Sunday.

In fact, the practice of Venezuelan leaders using social media to boost popularity started with Chavez, who signed onto Twitter in April 2010 with the account name @chavezcandanga. "Candanga" means "devil" in Spanish, but it can also mean someone who is tireless or blunt in Venezuelan slang.

Reports say Chavez employed a team of 200 experts to help him maintain his Twitter account, mainly to collect feedback from his approximately 4.18 million followers. According to a 2010 survey, Chavez had the second-highest number of Twitter followers among heads of state, behind only US President Barack Obama.

Maduro keeps a Twitter account as well, which is simultaneously updating his trip to Beijing to his 1.36 million fans on the service worldwide.

 Maduro offers online updates on China visit

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (left) appears on his new Sina Weibo account next to former president Hugo Chavez. Maduro opened his Chinese micro blog account on Sept 16.

(China Daily USA 09/23/2013 page6)