Thu, May 29, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Wen Jiabao's Facebook profile a big hit


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) now has a Facebook page.

It’s not known who set up the profile on the popular social-networking Web site, but it’s clear the premier has some fans — with more than 13,000 “supporters” as of yesterday, more than US President George W. Bush has on his page.

The Chinese government doesn’t have the most approachable reputation, but Wen has been praised for his quick and sympathetic response to the May 12 earthquake in Sichuang Province.

“This is grandpa Wen Jiabao, hang on child, we will rescue you!” he shouted at one point to a student trapped in the rubble, state media reported.

Wen’s Facebook page, featuring his official government photo, was set up two days after the quake. It is full of supportive comments and photos of him walking through the rubble and comforting victims.

“I love you, oh my God,” Tina Wong of Hong Kong posted.

“A model premier for the world!” Sukant Chandan of London wrote.

“It’s so great 2 see u here!” Celeste Lee of China said.

Wen is one of many politicians with a Facebook page, including Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and every major US presidential hopeful.

The site has a section where users can “Browse All Politicians” and see them ranked by their number of “supporters.”

There was no way of knowing immediately who set up the Wen profile.

There are a handful of pages on Facebook for Mao Zedong (毛澤東), including one for “The Almighty Chairman Mao Zedong,” which only has 393 supporters.

The 66-year-old Wen’s ability to show up quickly at the site of a disaster — be it a coal mine explosion or snowstorm-blocked railway — and look sympathetic has made him the most popular figure among China’s often distant-seeming leadership.

Just hours after the 7.9-magnitude quake hit Sichuan, he was on the scene with a bullhorn. TV cameras followed him for days as he tried to comfort children and put on a hard hat to enter a collapsed building.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) followed Wen’s visit to the quake zone with one of his own, but he looked less comfortable and didn’t win the kind of warm support the premier did. He doesn’t have his own Facebook profile.

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