Beijing, May 5: China's official media on Tuesday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative to open an account on the popular Chinese social microblog Weibo, saying he scored a "big hit" ahead of his visit here next week.
"Modi scores big hit with micro blog in run-up to visit," read the headline in the state-run English language China Daily, while another official newspaper Global Times headline says 'Modi debuts on Weibo ahead of state visit to China'.
The China Daily said Modi's account on the Sina Weibo, akin to Twitter and Facebook, "attracted thousands of Internet users".
Modi, who is scheduled to start his three-day visit to China from May 14, posted his first post in Chinese, saying "Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo." His post was immediately forwarded more than 4,700 times and attracted over 7,800 comments within three hours, it said.
Some welcomed Modi's "positive gesture", while many others raised issues that have posed obstacles to ties between the two countries for decades, it said.
One post read: "I suggest improving the social status of Indian women and protecting the safety of females! Or we foreign women will not dare travel to India." The post attracted more than 700 "likes", the report said.
It is not the first time that a foreign leader has opened a micro-blog account before making an official trip to China. In September 2013, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro opened a micro-blog account before visiting China, it said.
Modi's post was forwarded more than 4,700 times
Over 200 leaders of foreign countries and international organisations, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, had opened micro-blog accounts as of April last year, it said.
It quoted Le Yucheng, the Chinese ambassador to India, as saying that Modi will have the chance to communicate with China's businesspeople, young students and the public during his visit.
The Global Times said Modi has been welcomed by Chinese internet users with his first post, getting more than 14,217 hits and 26,406 followers as of press time. More than 10,000 internet users commented on his first post as of press time, it said.
"Aside from expressing curiosity on who runs this account for Modi, some Net users made references to territorial disputes between the two countries," it said.