Mao Grandson's First Tweet

But messages sent to the account of Mao Xinyu are waylaid by China's elaborate censorship mechanism.
2010-12-08
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RFA

The grandson of former supreme Chinese leader Mao Zedong has opened an account on a microblogging service similar to Twitter.

"Hi, everybody. I am Mao Xinyu," Mao Xinyu's first tweet read.

"I am hoping to boost communication with a wider group of friends through the Sina microblog."

Mao Xinyu, 40, has led a fairly low-profile existence since the death of his iconic grandfather in 1976, although his Communist Party pedigree still won him the rank of General in the People's Liberation Army at a young age.

His family lineage was enough to net him 45,845 followers on the Sina update service within a few days after he opened his account.

Little movement

However, there was little else to delight Mao Xinyu's fans.

"In spite of a warm reception from netizens, there hasn't been much movement on Mao Xinyu's Sina microblog account since," according to a news story on the Sina technology channel.

"There is still only one update, all by its lonesome," the report said, punning on the Chinese word for "grandson."

Other netizens said they did not expect much from Mao Xinyu online, however.

"It's only for show that he is trying to get closer to people online," said Chinese netizen You Yuping.

"In fact, every single reply to any of his updates gets investigated," he said.

Censorship

Yu said he had sent numerous very neutral messages to Mao online, usually along the lines of "Hello," but that all of them had been waylaid by China's elaborate censorship mechanism.

"There were a lot of people trying to reply to him, but nothing that contained the words 'grandson'... would get through," Yu said.

A message sent on Tuesday by RFA to Mao's account, which read "May I ask, are you really a relative of Mao Zedong?," was deleted after a few minutes.

Blogger Song Shinan said Mao Xinyu could potentially take a lot of teasing online about his background, especially from people who want to express their feelings about a controversial and bloody period in China's history.

"Mao Xinyu is a human being, but he's also a public figure and a political figure," Song said, echoing a commonly heard political joke with the punchline "The Chairman is human, too."

"That means he is fair game for people to poke fun at."

"Of course, to make fun of Mao Xinyu is to make fun of his grandfather. How could anyone resist?"

Change account

One netizen whose name sounds similar to Mao's was contacted by Sina to ask if he would mind changing his account name, "maoxinyu."

"This is because we want to improve all aspects of our service, and Mao Xinyu has now opened an account on the Sina microblog," the message read.

Mao Xinyu's father Mao Anqing, was a child of Mao's marriage with his first wife, Yang Kaihui, whom he later left for Jiang Qing.

A graduate in history at the prestigious Renmin University in Beijing, Mao Xinyu and his wife, Liu Bin, have one son, Mao Dongdong, born in 2003, as well as one daughter, Mao Tianyi.

He is currently employed as a researcher at the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences, and published a book in 2003 titled Grandfather Mao Zedong.

He is also a national committee member of the government advisory body, the Chinese People's Consultative Conference.

Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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