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Who is that unmasked man? Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shrugs off Beijing’s smog on Tiananmen Square run

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 March, 2016, 2:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 2:59pm

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shrugged off the return of the smog to Beijing on Friday morning by not wearing a face mask as he said “hi” to residents while jogging in Tiananmen Square.

It’s great to be back in Beijing! I kicked off my visit with a run through Tiananmen Square, past the Forbidden City and over to the Temple of Heaven
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder

Although Facebook is still blocked in China, it did not stop the technology guru from posting his picture while out running in the capital.

“It’s great to be back in Beijing! I kicked off my visit with a run through Tiananmen Square, past the Forbidden City and over to the Temple of Heaven,” Zuckerberg wrote in his Facebook post.

He is in Beijing to attend Saturday’s start of the three-day China Development Forum, sponsored by the Development Research Centre of the State Council.

Zuckerberg will take part in a discussion alongside Alibaba chairman Jack Ma.

In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg said the run had marked him reaching a distance of 100 miles (160km) in his “a year of running” plan after setting himself a target to run 365 miles this year.

The photograph linked to the post shows Zuckerberg running with five other people – all of them without a face mask.

READ MORE: Mark Zuckerberg announces he’s giving away 99pc of his Facebook shares – and he’s a new dad

It's great to be back in Beijing! I kicked off my visit with a run through Tiananmen Square, past the Forbidden City and...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, March 17, 2016

Zuckerberg’s post drew more than 2,000 comments within an hour. Some expressed concern for his health and urged him to wear face mask.

“Don’t be like Mark, wear your mask,” one comment said.

Other Facebook users gave Zuckerberg a warm welcome.

Don’t be like Mark, wear your mask
Anonymous Facebook comment

Arthur Chen wrote: “If I were there, then I would turn around and take a photo of you because that chance is rarer than one with a photo of Chairman Mao [Mao Zedong}.”

“Beijing’s Air Quality Index remained at about 250 on Friday morning, but exceeded 300 at point – in the unhealthy range. At 11am the index had reached 252, according to the Beijing municipal environment monitoring centre.

By 2pm on Friday it had fallen to below 200.

The heavy smog has also prompted the authorities to issue a “yellow alert”, but they said the smog and visibility in the city would improve in the afternoon.

Zuckerberg paid a visit to Beijing last October and delivered a speech at Tsinghua University entirely in Putonghua.

He told students they should have a strong sense of mission and work hard to change the world.

He was appointed to the advisory board of the university’s school of economics management in 2014.

Last December, Beijing issued its second ever “red alert” – which led to the closure of schools and half of all private cars were ordered off the road for several days – as the capital was shrouded in the worst smog of 2015.

The air quality index hit the 500-mark, the maximum, at all monitoring stations in Beijing.