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Welcome to Sina Weibo, Stephen Hawking!

Following David Cameron, Tim Cook and many other prominent international figures, scientist genius Stephen Hawking has now made his entrance on China’s social media platform Sina Weibo.

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Following David Cameron, Tim Cook and many other prominent international figures, scientist genius Stephen Hawking has now made his entrance on China’s social media platform Sina Weibo.

On April 12, Beijing time 10:12, world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking published his first post on China’s biggest social media platform Sina Weibo in both English and Chinese. In his debut post, Hawking announces his appearance on Weibo, recalls his two previous travels to China, and expresses his wish to continue communication with his “friends in China”.

Hawking’s first Weibo post soon attracted hundreds of thousands of re-posts and comments. Hawking’s official account, @史蒂芬·霍金_StephenHawking, is jointly run by Hawking’s own team and social media company Stradella Road. It has attracted almost 1 million followers so far. All messages with the inscription SH are authentic from Hawking himself.

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Weibo users give the scientist a warm welcome, with many people expressing their exhilaration to have one of the world’s most prominent scientists on Chinese social media, saying that he “will bring up the average IQ of Weibo users”.

Some people show that they are familiar with Hawking’s works, and express their appreciation for his contribution to science. But also for those who are not that familiar with Hawking’s theories, he is still a model figure. Many refer to him as a “God-like figure”, and address him with the Chinese pronoun Nin (您, similar to French vous) instead of Ni (你, similar to French tu) to show their respect. One netizen remarks that Hawking is the most cited figure in his school essays.

Hawking is not the first world celebrity to appear on Sina Weibo. Many famous political figures from the international community preceded him. The first foreign politician to open a Weibo account was the Chinese-American major Huang Jinbo (@黄锦波), who set up his Weibo account on March 31, 2009. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Michael Rudd (@陆克文先生) is amongst the most active foreign Weibo politicians. Fluent in Chinese and with one daughter settling in Beijing, Kevin gives regular updates in Chinese. Most of his posts are about his connection to China. As for UK prime minister David Cameron (@英国首相); his Weibo account was opened on occasion of his state visit to China in 2013, and has somehow become a platform for Sherlock fans to nudge for new episodes. Former President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy (@欧盟欧洲理事会主席) posts about EU-China relations and other work-related information on Weibo.

yingguo David Cameron wishing his followers a Happy Chinese New Year on Sina Weibo.

Besides more and more famous international politicians getting online through Sina Weibo, a growing number of other world celebrities are now also engaging with China’s social media. Amongst them are big business names like Bill Gates (@billgates) and Tim Cook (@ TimCook), prominent sports figures including Maria Sharapova (@ MariaSharapova) and Andy Murray (@ AndyMurray安迪穆雷), as well as famous showbiz figures such as Hugh Jackman (@ HughJackman) and Tom Cruise (@ officialtomcruise). Not to mention many Asian actors, actresses and singers who also have a Chinese fanbase (for example Japanese AV actress @ 苍井空 and Thai young actor and singer @ Psy_小P).

For foreign politicians and international celebrities, China and the Chinese public is becoming increasingly relevant. Politicians engage with Chinese social media as a type of public diplomacy, striving for a better public image of the countries they represent. For businessmen, sportsmen and movie figures, Weibo is a new platform for public relations to promote themselves and their businesses to a huge Chinese market. Whether it is for the sake of diplomacy, marketing purposes, or for boosting personal careers – international famous people have found their way to Weibo.

Hawking’s Weibo debut, however, seems to differ from that of his predecessors. The scientist has no specific country to represent, no apparent diplomatic purposes to fulfil, nor any explicit business intentions. As he said in his first post, he would like to share his life and his work with his audience, and learn from them through replies. To what extent Hawking’s Weibo account will actually stimulate intellectual exchanges remains to be seen, but his first steps on Weibo seem promising: China’s netizens have welcomed Hawking with open arms.

– By Diandian Guo

Read more about foreign politicians on Sina Weibo: http://news.sina.com.cn/w/2013-12-08/144828917509.shtml

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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China and Covid19

King of Workout Livestream: Liu Genghong Has Become an Online Hit During Shanghai Lockdown

Liu Genghong (Will Liu) is leading his best lockdown life.

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With their exercise livestreams, Liu and his wife are bringing some positive vibes to Shanghai and the rest of China in Covid times, getting thousands of social media users to jump along with them.

On Friday, April 22, the hashtag “Why Has Liu Genghong Become An Online Hit” (#为什么刘畊宏突然爆火#) was top trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Liu Genghong (刘畊宏, 1972), who is also known as Will Liu, is a Taiwanese singer and actor who is known for playing in dramas (Pandamen 熊貓人), films (True Legend 苏乞儿), and releasing various music albums (Rainbow Heaven 彩虹天堂). He is a devout Christian.

Besides all of his work in the entertainment business, Liu is also a fitness expert. In 2013, Liu participated in the CCTV2 weight loss programme Super Diet King (超级减肥王, aka The Biggest Loser) as a motivational coach, and later also became a fitness instructor for the Jiangsu TV show Changing My Life (减出我人生), in which he also helped overweight people to become fit. After that, more fitness programs followed, including the 2017 Challenge the Limit (全能极限王) show.

During the Covid outbreak in Shanghai, the 50-year-old Liu Genghong has unexpectedly become an online hit for livestreaming fitness routines from his home. Together with his wife Vivi Wang, he streams exercise and dance videos five days of the week via the Xiaohongshu app and Douyin.

In his livestreams, Liu and his wife appear energetic, friendly, happy and super fit. They exercise and dance to up-beat songs while explaining and showing their moves, often encouraging those participating from their own living rooms (“Yeah, very good, you’re doing well!”). Some of their livestreams attract up to 400,000 viewers tuning in at the same time.

The couple, both in lockdown at their Shanghai home, try to motivate other Shanghai residents and social media users to stay fit. Sometimes, Liu’s 66-year-old mother in law also exercises with them, along with the children.

“I’ve been exercising watching Liu and his wife for half an hour, they’re so energetic and familiar, they’ve already become my only family in Shanghai,” one Weibo user says.

“I never expected Liu Genghong to be a ‘winner’ during this Covid epidemic in Shanghai,” another person writes.

Along with Liu’s online success, there’s also a renewed interest in the Jay Chou song Herbalist’s Manual (本草纲目), which is used as a workout tune, combined with a specific dance routine. Liu is also a good friend and fitness pal to Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou.

This week, various Chinese news outlets such as Fengmian News and The Paper have reported on Liu’s sudden lockdown success. Livestreaming workout classes in general have become more popular in China since the start of Covid-19, but there reportedly has been no channel as popular as that of Liu Genghong.

The channel’s success is partly because of Liu’s fame and contagious enthusiasm, but it is also because of Vivi Wang, whose comical expressions during the workouts have also become an online hit.

While many netizens are sharing their own videos of exercizing to Liu’s videos, there are also some who warn others not to strain themselves too quickly.

“I’ve been inside for over 40 days with no exercise” one person writes: “I did one of the workouts yesterday and my heart nearly exploded.” “I feel fine just watching,” others say: “I just can’t keep up.”

Watch one of Liu’s routines via Youtube here, or here, or here.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

Weibo Shuts Down Rumors of Tong Liya’s Alleged Marriage to CMG President Shen Haixiong

The censorship surrounding the Tong Liya story almost drew more attention than the actual rumors themselves.

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The famous actress and dancer Tong Liya (佟丽娅, 1983) has had an eventful year. After hosting the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2020, she performed at the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in February of 2021 and in May she announced that after seven years of marriage, she finalized her divorce with actor and director Chen Sicheng (陈思诚).

Tong Liya is of Xibe ethnicity and was born in Xinjiang. The former beauty pageant and award-winning actress is known for her roles in many films and TV series, such as those in The Queens and Beijing Love Story. She also starred in the 2021 Chinese historical film 1921, which focuses on the founding of the Communist Party of China.

This month, online rumors about Tong flooded the internet, alleging that she was recently remarried to Shen Haixiong (慎海雄, 1967), the deputy minister of the Party’s Central Propaganda Department and the President of the CMG (China Media Group), which includes CCTV, China National Radio, and China Radio International.

Some of the rumors included those claiming the actress was previously Shen’s mistress, or netizens connecting Tong Liya’s relations with such an influential and powerful person to her role at the previous CCTV Spring Gala Festival.

But these rumors did not stay online for long, and the quick censorship itself became somewhat of a spectacle. As reported by China Digital Times, the topic ‘Tong Liya’s Remarriage’ (‘佟丽娅再婚’) was completely taken offline.

Following the rumors and censorship, it first was announced that Tong reported the online rumors about her to the police, with the hashtag “Tong Liya Reports the Case to Authorities” (#佟丽娅报案#) receiving over 310 million clicks. On December 23rd, the hashtag “Beijing Police is Handling Tong Liya’s Report” (#北京警方受理佟丽娅报案#) went viral online, attracting over 1.7 billion (!) views on Weibo within three days.

The Beijing Haidian police statement on Weibo is as follows:

In response to the recent rumors on the Internet, the public security authorities have accepted Tong Liya’s report, and the case is now under investigation. The internet is not a place beyond the law, and illegal acts such as starting rumors and provoking trouble will be investigated and punished according to the law.”

The statement led to some confused responses among netizens who wanted to know more about what was actually reported and what it is the police are exactly ‘investigating.’

On Twitter, Vice reporter Viola Zhou wrote that the censorship “angered many young people,” some of whom lost their social media accounts for discussing Tong Liya’s second marriage: “It’s now prompting a mass pushback against the potential abuse of censorship power.”

In an attempt to circumvent censorship, and perhaps also ridicule it, some netizens even resorted to morse code to write about Tong Liya.

One Weibo post about the issue by Legal Daily received over 3000 comments, yet none were displayed at the time of writing.

The case is allegedly still being investigated by Beijing authorities.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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