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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 Arts & Entertainment

‘First Lady of Hong Kong TV’ Lily Leung Passes Away at Age 90

Chinese netizens pay their respects to veteran actress Lily Leung Shun-Yin (1929-2019), who passed away on August 13.

Manya Koetse

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Lily in 1996, image via Sing Tao Daily.

While the Hong Kong protests are dominating the headlines, the death of Hong Kong veteran actress Lily Leung Shun-Yin (梁舜燕) has become a top trending topic on social media site Sina Weibo under the hashtag “Hong Kong Actress Liang Shunyan Dies from Illness” (#香港演员梁舜燕病逝#).

Lily Leung, image via http://www.sohu.com/a/333418087_161795.

The actress was born in Hong Kong in 1929. She starred in dozens of television series, including the first TV drama to be locally broadcasted. She became known as “the first lady of Hong Kong TV.”

Leung acted for TVB and other broadcasters. Some of her more well-known roles were those in Kindred Spirit (真情) and Heart of Greed (溏心风暴).

Leung, also nicknamed ‘Sister Lily’ (Lily姐), passed away on August 13. According to various Chinese media reports, the actress passed peacefully surrounded by family after enduring illness. She was 90 years old.

“I’ve seen so much of her work,” many Weibo netizens say, sharing the favorite roles played by Leung. “I always watched her on TVB while growing up, and will cherish her memory,” one commenter wrote.

Another well-known Hong Kong actress, Teresa Ha Ping (夏萍), also passed away this month. She was 81 years old when she died. Her passing away also attracted a lot of attention on Chinese social media (
#演员夏萍去世#).

Many people express their sadness over the fact that not one but two grand ladies from Hong Kong’s 20th-century entertainment era have passed away this month.

“Those people from our memories pass away one by one, and it represents the passing of an era,” one Weibo user wrote.

“Two familiar faces and old troupers of Hong Kong drama – I hope they rest in peace.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 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

Iconic Shanghai Singer Yao Lee Passes Away at the Age of 96

Yao Li, one of the seven great singing stars of Shanghai in the 1940s, has passed away.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese singer Yao Lee (姚莉), the ‘Queen of Mandarin pop,’ passed away on July 19 at the age of 96.

The singer, with her ‘Silvery Voice,’ was known as one of the seven great singing stars (“七大歌星”) of Shanghai of the 1940s.

For those who may not know her name, you might know her music – one of her iconic songs was used in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Yao’s most famous songs include “Rose, Rose, I Love You” (玫瑰玫瑰我爱你), “Meet Again” (重逢), and “Love That I Can’t Have” (得不到的爱情).

Yao, born in Shanghai in 1922, started singing at the age of 13. Her brother Yao Min was a popular music songwriter.

When popular music was banned under Mao in the 1950s, Hong Kong became a new center of the Mandarin music industry, and Yao continued her career there.

On Weibo, the hashtag Yao Lee Passes Away (#姚莉去世#) already received more than 200 million views at time of writing.

Many Chinese netizens post candles to mourn the death of the popular singer, some call her passing “the end of an era.”

“Shanghai of those years is really where it all started,” others say.

Listen to one of Yao’s songs below:

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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