Twitter (@narendramodi, @MEAIndia)

Twitter might be blocked in China, but you wouldn't know it by looking at Narendra Modi's timeline.

The Indian Prime Minister spent the latter half of last week live-tweeting his first visit to China while in office, even sharing a selfie with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at one point.

So, how did he get around the "Great Firewall" of China? Quartz India suggested that he might have used a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, but who knows—Modi's Mona Lisa smile is full of secrets.

Modi, who was elected to office in May of last year, is no stranger to selfies and other trappings of social media. His personal Twitter handle boasts over 12 million followers, and the Office of the Prime Minister's account has more than 6 million.


And now he can add at least another 157 thousand followers to that tally, thanks to his recent venture onto Chinese microblogging site Weibo.

Screen shot of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Weibo profile.

Since Twitter is inaccessible to most people in China, Weibo would serve as Modi's primary method of direct communication with the Chinese throughout his trip.


The Prime Minister posted his first message on Weibo on May 4, writing in Chinese: "Hello China! We look forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo."

Weibo users followed the prime minister during his three-day visit, which began in Xi'an on Thursday, continued to Beijing on Friday, and concluded in Shanghai on Saturday. They watched him meet with President Xi Jinping, admire the warrior statues at the Terracotta Army museum, and meet with Buddhist monks at the Daxingshan Temple—oh, and take that super smiley selfie with Premier Li we talked about earlier.

Screen shot from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Weibo page.


Unless Google Translate has done me wrong, every message and photo Modi shared on Weibo was also posted to either his personal Twitter handle or the Office of the Prime Minister's account—but his Twitter followers saw a couple of things that his Weibo followers did not.

Modi's Weibo audience missed out on these photos from the launch of the Centre for Gandian and Indian Studies at Fudan University. And only the Prime Minister's Twitter followers saw just how warm a welcome he received by locals in the various cities he visited.


Many of the business-oriented tweets—like those from the China-India Business Forum on Friday—didn't make it to Weibo, either. Nor did a number of tweets regarding Modi's efforts to discuss border policy and India's growing trade deficit with Chinese officials.

So, what to make of these omissions?

They seem to speak to Modi's credentials as a social media-savvy world leader, one who knows how to tweak his message depending on his audience. His Chinese followers on Weibo saw a cooperative politician interested in their culture and in working together for their countries' mutual benefit. The prime minister's Indian audience on Twitter witnessed a politician working hard for his electorate—promoting India to business investors, settling border disputes with international neighbors, and promoting their collective position on the world stage.


Prime Minister Modi concluded his visit to China on Saturday, but he wrote that he would like to stay in contact with his Weibo followers. He has since traveled north to Mongolia, where he has already posed for (at least) two selfies with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.


Bad at filling out bios seeks same.