Sina Picks Kai-Fu Lee as China's Most Influential Micro-blogger

The former head of Google China Kai-Fu Lee, is the most influential man among all the micro-bloggers, according to Sina Weibo. He topped the popular micro-blogging platform's recently released list [zh] the “100 Most Influential Weibo Celebrities.”

Apart from his day-to-day job as the helmsman of a Beijing-based company that helps fund start-ups, Kai-Fu Lee is also a social media veteran —putting his spin on various hot topics and interacting with his more than 26 million followers every day on Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog service that is three years old. He has even written a book about social media, “Microblog: Changing the World.”

Kai-Fu Lee. By Flickr user Hubert Burda Media CC: BY-NC-SA.

Kaifu Lee’s Number 1 title is anything but accidental. He constantly weighs in on China’s thorny issues that resonate with the general public. He recently had this to say in response to the highly strained online train ticket booking system [zh]:

@李开复:有人说买票软件网民才会用,民工不会用,导致社会不公平,所以违法。若这也算违法,那以后是否:民航局禁止用去哪儿买票、交通部禁止用导航抄捷径,商务部 禁止用淘宝买便宜货、教育部禁止用英语学习软件准备高考、卫生部禁止网上挂号看医生?若要照顾民工,只有铁道部从源头做起,线上线下做分配。

Some people say only netizens know how to use the booking software, migrant workers don’t, which leads to social injustice, therefore ( the booking software) is illegal. If this should be counted illegal, should the Civil Aviation Bureau ban “Qu Naer” to assist ticket buying? Should the Ministry of Communications ban GPS that helps people cut through the road, Should the Ministry of Commerce ban people from buying stuff on Taobao, should the Ministry of Education ban the use of English learning software for students preparing for the entrance exam to universities, should the Ministry of Health ban online registration for seeing doctors? If (we) want to care for migrant workers, we should start from the source, the Ministry of Railways, and achieve a combination of online and offline distribution.

And he never shys away from voicing his own opinions. Earlier, Global Voices published posts of a censorship row involving the liberal-leaning Southern Weekly newspaper. The heavy-handed censorship in which a newspaper editorial was brutally altered enraged netizens and an ensuing newspaper staff strike gained the support of many, including Lee.


There is only one truth, to deceive oneself is only going to make things worse and lead to credibility deficit. Rights belong to people and people need to know the truth.

Lee also retweeted several posts showing support for the newspaper as the censorship row continued to reverberate in the cyberspace. Then he was reportedly invited to “have tea” with the police which means some form of interrogation and presumably he would be warned to rein in his comments on the very matter. Later Lee vented his frustration in his micro-blog:


The tea was awful!!

Besides lee, the top ten list is mostly made of entertainers and pop-stars. Coming in 2nd and 3rd are He Jiong and Xie Na, both hosts of a weekly show, Happy Camp aired on China’s flagship entertainment channel, Hunan Satellite TV. Actress Yao Chen and Yang Mi, who rose to fame by starring in popular TV series and movies are among the top 10.

Some prominent Chinese journalists and news personalities also made the top 100 list including, State broadcaster CCTV’s Rui Chenggang, Hongkong-based Phoenix TV’s Luqiu Luwei, self-employed talk show host Yang Lan and the Global Times editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin.

The site also revealed top performers in four categories [zh] which included weibo accounts of media, websites, universities, enterprises and government departments.

Sina Weibo said the rankings were based on activity level, coverage ratio of the posts, and number of retweets. However, many believe that platform has been in cooperation with the Chinese government in promoting opinion leaders.


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