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China Wonders Who's Behind New President's Mystery Fan Blog

Written by Owen On 6 February 2013 @ 16:21 pm | 3 Comments

In China, Citizen Media, East Asia, English, Politics

A mystery blogger who has chronicled the comings and goings of incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping with remarkable candidness on the popular Chinese micro-blogging website Sina Weibo has many in the communist country wondering who he or she is.

The fan of Xi, who has some 480,000 followers and growing, posts photos of the politician and nearly live blogs every step he takes with a surprising knowledge of the leader's itinerary.

This Internet-savvy user, in a likely attempt to bypass the heavy-handed Weibo censors, refers to the president with the nicknames Boss Xi and Xi Dada, which means “Big Xi”, or “Uncle Xi” in Shannxi dialect:

@学习粉丝团 [1] 习总上午去了菜市场和养老院,从煤炭局后的养老远出来, 车队顺天水路经过了金城宾馆,貌似回家吃饭去了

Boss Xi went to the food market and nursing homes, he then emerged from the nursing home of the Coal Bureau, the motorcade has passed Jincheng Hotel, it seems they are heading back home to eat.
A screenshot of the homepage of Xi's fan called "Study Xi Fans Club"

A screenshot of the homepage of Xi's fan called “Study Xi Fans Club”

Censorship is commonplace in the world of Weibo, a social networking site that resembles Twitter. Searching a state leader's name usually yields nothing more than terse media headlines. Wen Jiabao, China’s outgoing premier who recently came under scrutiny after The New York Times published a lengthy article [2] about the tremendous wealth his family has amassed, is a blocked phrase on Weibo.

So it is rare for personal comments concerning such a high-ranking official to gain momentum and attract retweet after retweet.

And in a country where the government keeps information about its leadership under tight control,it's rarer that this mysterious Weibo user has been able to post the up-to-date whereabouts of Xi, even before state media CCTV:

@央视新闻 [3]:神马情况?@学习粉丝团 [4] 比我们快,比我们近!

@CCTVNews: What is happening? @XuexiFensiTuan is faster and closer [to Xi] than us!

Many are questioning the user's real identity. The user's account profile reveals that he or she is a graduate of Xidian University, located in China’s northwestern Shannxi province, where incoming President Xi is originally from. “This is a community where [we] show our support and liking for Xi. Loving Xi non-stop, welcome to the group everyone,” reads a message at the top of the Weibo page [1].

In a move to fend off mounting curiosity of media and netizens, the user denied in a January 5 post [zh]  [5]being a member of the Communist Party of China and rejected allegations that he or she is close to Xi. The user added that the pictures of Xi were from online sources or were provided by local Xi fans.

In the end, the user wrote: “Thank you everyone, everything is changing, tomorrow will be better”.

The account's first Weibo post was published a few days after the closing of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China late last year in which Xi was named head of the party. It reads like a welcome message: “This is the community where we support Boss Xi, you are welcome to join the big family of Xi fans”.

The editor-in-chief of one local newspaper believes the mystery surrounding the Weibo user is proof positive that the public's interest in the lives of high-ranking officials is growing.

@我是朝日 [6]:解开“学习粉丝团”身份谜底的人们,这时候一定不反对网络实名认证。至少对这个账号的实名不会反对。其实这个一口一个“习大大”的博主,人们探究她的真实身份,表面上看是网民对这个博主的好奇,其实是对中央最高领导层政治生活面貌的好奇。

Those who want to unlock the mystery of “Xuexi Fensi Tuan” perhaps will not oppose real-name registration this time around. At least, they will not oppose the real identity registration for this account. On the surface, people are curious about the user who writes about “Xi Dada” [to refer to Xi], in essence, it all comes down to a curiosity toward the supreme leadership’s political life.


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URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/02/06/china-wonders-whos-behind-new-presidents-mystery-fan-blog/

URLs in this post:

[1] @学习粉丝团: http://weibo.com/xuexifensituan

[2] a lengthy article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/business/global/family-of-wen-jiabao-holds-a-hidden-fortune-in-china.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[3] @央视新闻: http://media.weibo.com/profile.php?uid=cctvxinwen

[4] @学习粉丝团: http://weibo.com/n/学习粉丝团

[5] January 5 post [zh] : http://news.ifeng.com/gundong/detail_2013_02/07/22027529_0.shtml

[6] 我是朝日: http://weibo.com/u/3202293031

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