Unable to tweet, Bill Gates starts a Chinese microblog

Bill Gates's Chinese microblog attracts 114,000 followers in first week

What does the world's wealthiest man do when he can't tweet? For Bill Gates, a trip to China this week has meant a jump to a Chinese micro-blogging platform.

With Twitter blocked in China, Gates signed up for the microblog, writing his posts in English. More than 114,000 users have begun following the microblog as of Thursday afternoon.

"On way to Shenzhen to meet Warren and others," Gates wrote in his most recent post. "spending time w/BYD [a Chinese car company] and learning about innovations in batteries, energy and transportation."

Sina, the provider of the blog, has verified that it belongs to Gates. The microblog notes that its content comes from Gates' Twitter account.

Gates is visiting China this week with Warren Buffett to encourage more charitable giving from the country's wealthy.

The philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder actively posts on Twitter, which he began using this past January. His account currently draws more than 1.5 million followers.

Twitter, however, has lost its popularity in China, where access to the site has been stifled. The microblog is currently blocked in the country, along with other popular American websites like Facebook and Youtube, putting the services at a disadvantage in China.

With Twitter banned, Chinese microblogging sites have filled the gap, and have grown in popularity among Chinese Internet users. But still, content on the microblogs is regulated by Chinese censors.

After a flurry of posts on Monday, the blog has been silent. But thousands of Chinese users are already replying, some in English, some in Chinese.

"The world's richest man, I admire you," posted one user in Chinese. "I've heard you have a lot of money. Can you let me borrow a little to start an enterprise?" another wrote.

Others hope Gates will write his next posts in Chinese.

"The result of me not learning English well is that reading this is painstaking," wrote one follower.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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