Chinese Netizens Mourn Jobs

The passing of a technology visionary prompts an outpouring of emotion from China's Internet users.

2011-10-06
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jobschina-305.jpg A Chinese man places flowers beside a photo of Steve Jobs outside an Apple store in Beijing, Oct. 6, 2011.
AFP

Tens of thousands of Chinese Internet users paid tribute to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on Thursday, setting up online shrines and gathering outside the Apple store in Beijing to lay wreaths.

"The entrance of the Apple store in Sanlitun looks like the entrance to Jokhang temple," wrote prominent blogger Hecaitou on Twitter, apparently from the scene.

He said large numbers of people had also gathered to shoot video and pictures of the store and its floral tributes to Jobs, who died at the age of 56 on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer.

"There aren't so many people laying flowers, but there are a lot of people taking photos and video and posting them to microblog sites," he added.

On the massively popular Sina Weibo microblog service, the home page was decorated with a black banner headline in memory of Jobs on Thursday.

"To live, is to change the world," the banner said.

A Sina Weibo microsite posted by user @weiboxiaomishu called on iPhone and iPad users to change the signature line of their posts to "Sent from Steve Jobs' iPhone/iPad."

The post was retweeted more than 60,000 times and had garnered more than 9,000 comments by around 6:00 p.m. local time on Thursday.

Passing of an idol

The majority of comments showed grief or respect at Jobs' passing, many of them adorned with emoticon candles or tearful faces.

"I feel very sad, that the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs ... died of cancer at the age of 56," wrote user @fransky. "I hope he didn't suffer too much at his passing. We will remember him forever!"

"In memory of humanity's greatest artist, Steve Jobs," wrote user @anyingyishu.

"He will be missed," tweeted @qinqinwodeponiang, while @tangerduo added: "The death of a genius."

Former Google China chief Kai-Fu Lee wrote on his verified Weibo account: "Your products changed the world and your thinking influenced a generation."

Microbloggers also retweeted extensively the reaction of Tencent chief executive Ma Huateng, known by his nickname "Pony."

"Who are we going to worship now?" Ma reportedly said in an update on his company's own microblogging platform, Tencent Weibo.

"There isn't a single person in the world alive today who would make people all over the world feel such grief and sorrow," Ma's widely quoted update said.

"He was my idol."

Cult-like following

Not all online comments went with the flow, however.

On Twitter, which is blocked by China's Great Firewall and hard for most users to access, Chassit Kane Gao wrote in response to Ma's comment:  "Oioi this is getting a bit disgusting."

And Beijing-based writer Liu Di made an ironic reference to historical outpourings of national grief for former Chinese leaders, which have often sparked fresh protests against the ruling Communist Party: "It's not like Steve Jobs is Hu Yaobang," she wrote.

"Perhaps they're worried the mourning activities could spark a new mass incident?"

The official Xinhua news agency reported that some users were now calling the latest model of the iPhone, the iPhone 4S, the "iPhone for Steve."

"I will buy a new iPhone 4S to remember great Jobs," it quoted one microblogger as saying.

Reported by Luisetta Mudie.

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