The year 2015 saw five official overseas visits made by Premier Li Keqiang, each attracting much attention on social media.
During his first overseas visit in 2015, the Premier attended the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, and paid an official visit to the country from Jan 20 to 22.
A total of 838 articles about the visit were published by public accounts on WeChat, the Chinese version of WhatsApp, and they were read more than 1.9 million times, according to statistics by the website newrank.cn.
Articles featuring Premier Li’s analysis of Chinese economic growth rate in his speech at the Davos forum were reposted and read 340,000 times. Another popular article was about how the Premier’s Moments might look if he and other leaders of the Davos meeting all had WeChat accounts. Moments is a platform in WeChat where people share pictures and opinions.
The top article on the news application Jinri Toutiao, or “today’s headlines”, was one highlighting domestic and overseas media’s positive feedback after Premier Li’s speech at the forum.
A video showing the Premier speaking English at the forum also went viral online.
During Premier Li’s visit to Latin America from May 18 to 26, 2015, an article revealing how he held meetings on his special plane with ministry officials ranked first among the top 10 most popular articles on WeChat.
Articles featuring the Premier’s personal promotion for China’s manufacturing, containing the keywords “promotion”, were also among the most popular on WeChat.
The most widely read article on Jinri Toutiao was one about an interlude during Premier Li’s visit to Chile. At the welcoming ceremony, the sound system that was supposed to play the national anthems broke down. To break the awkward silence, the Premier suggested the guests sing the national anthems together. The article was read nearly half a million times.
From June 28 to July 2, 2015, Premier Li attended the 17th China-EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels, Belgium, and paid an official visit to France.
According to statistics from newrank.cn, among the top 10 most popular articles, traditional media and new media had equal numbers, the most popular article being one highlighting France’s decision to loosen visa restrictions for Chinese citizens.
Moreover, a set of cartoons showing the highlights of the Premier’s visit were reposted on WeChat public accounts.
On Jinri Toutiao, the most widely read article was one reporting how France held a welcoming ceremony for Premier Li.
Unlike the previous three visits, articles about the Premier’s visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) contained more colorful key words, including kimchi, ginseng chicken soup and bibimbap, perhaps due to the closeness of the two countries in location and culture.
During his visit from Oct 31 to Nov 2, 2015, Premier Li attended the sixth meeting of China-Japan-ROK leaders and paid an official visit to ROK.
A total of 656 related articles were published by WeChat public accounts, five articles being read more than 100,000 times.
Among the most popular articles were those interpreting the benefits that Premier Li’s visit would bring about to ordinary people.
Chinese youth representatives, including star swimmer Ning Zetao and actor Han Geng, who accompanied the Premier during the visit, also attracted much attention. A related topic on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, was read 45.25 million times and commented on 110,000 times.
On Jinri Toutiao, the most popular articles focused on China-Japan-ROK relations.
From Nov 20 to 23, 2015, Premier Li attended leaders’ meetings on East Asia cooperation and paid an official visit to Malaysia.
The most popular article on WeChat at the time was one featuring the Premier’s wife Cheng Hong, who accompanied him on official overseas visits five times since May 2014.
Due to the Premier’s tight schedule during his stay in Malaysia and the following meetings with Central and Eastern European leaders back in China, the phrase “Keqiang rhythm” became a hot topic online.
On Jinri Toutiao, half of the top 10 most popular articles focused on the South China Sea issue, which elaborated on the five initiatives on the issue put forward by Premier Li during the East Asia Summit.