Britain’s Prime Minister has joined Chinese social media giant Weibo and has already sparked a lot of interest by having more than 159,000 followers within the first few days. David Cameron is currently in China for a few days to try and smooth relations between China and the European Union while also trying to promote British products and investing in Britain. Many Chinese eagerly asked questions after his account was confirmed as legit by the British Embassy. Question related to opium because of the British past in China during the Opium wars, as well as mention of the Summer Palace being ransacked by British and French forces. Also there were pleas for help because Britain has free medical care while China does not even though it is a communist state plus some were still angered from the visit the Dalai Lama had last year. However, most users were curious about why no Chinese politician has a Weibo account yet in other countries their political leaders have a Twitter account.
Weibo is popular in China and some minor celebrities and actors who are unheard of outside of Mainland China have more followers than Westerner stars such as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. The fact Twitter is blocked by the Great firewall of China and that Weibo is ran and controlled in China so therefore it is extremely popular.
Weibo is very similar to Twitter but also has elements of Facebook too, which makes it a really diverse social media tool. Weibo was launched by the Shanghai based company Sina back in 2009 and as of late 2012 has 503 million registered users, which might be a good tool for David Cameron to help smooth relations with China as he will have a bigger platform and more ears to listen and eyes to read. Just for the record Weibo is the Chinese translation of the word ‘microblog’ so the name describes exactly what you do on this website. Like Twitter, Weibo allows users to post comments, messages etc with a 140-character limit, also they can mention or talk to other people using the person’s Weibo name after the ‘@” character. Weibo users can also add hashtags, follow other people, and also to make their posts appear in other users’ own timeline. So as you can see Weibo is a lot like Twitter but with a much larger audience, this may be a very smart move after all for David Cameron.