Social media first to report Xi visit to Henan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 4:59am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 6:01pm

President Xi Jinping made a surprise visit to Henan province yesterday, drawing a crowd at a memorial park for a late communist cadre.

News of his visit to the Jiao Yulu Memorial Hall in Lankao county in Kaifeng broke not through state media but via Sina Weibo at around 1pm, with a user publishing three photos of Xi surrounded by dozens of people. "Internet users spotted Xi Dada somewhere in Kaifeng in Henan this morning," user Xiaodaomeizi, or "little sister of hearsay" wrote. Dada means uncle in some northwestern dialects.

Jiao, a former party secretary of Lankao, died of exhaustion in 1964 and was later praised as a model cadre who devoted his life to the people.

A park employee confirmed Xi visited at around 11.15am, but refused to give more details.

The identity of the account user is unclear, but social media has previously been first to announce similar appearances by the president, where the emphasis appears to be on his connection with regular people.

Last month, pictures of Xi walking in an area of alleys north of the Beijing's city centre and the Forbidden City first circulated on Weibo. The president asked residents if they wanted a photo taken with him, according to local media.

That visit came after Xi was photographed ordering and paying for steamed buns at a cheap restaurant in Beijing. Some internet users said it showed the president had the common touch, although others cast doubt on the event's spontaneity.

In May, Xiaodaomeizi was one of the first microbloggers to release news of Xi's visit to Lushan county, in Sichuan province, following an earthquake that killed more than 200 people the previous month.