PM Modi quits Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 1

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deleted his account on Weibo – the Chinese Twitter – four days after India banned 59 mobile applications linked to China.

Though the government announced the banning of apps on Saturday after reportedly weeks of discussion, the PM’s Weibo account seemed to have escaped the censor’s eye.

Sources said the delay was because of the complex procedures involved in deleting a VIP account.

As many as 113 posts of the Prime Minister had to be laboriously deleted one by one. The two posts that have remained carry the PM’s photo along with that of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Apparently, the app does not have the permission to easily delete photos of their President.

Another reason cited for the PM’s Weibo account staying alive days after the app was banned was the inordinate delay in permission from China for the deletions.

“It is incredible that security agencies did not conduct any SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats) before permitting the PM to open an account on a foreign app. The conditions for deleting the account should have been factored in right at the outset,” said a cyberspace expert.

Modi had joined Weibo in 2015 during his intense China-wooing phase and the account quickly gathered about 2.5 lakh followers, many of them Chinese attracted by the novelty of an Indian leader tweeting in Mandarin at an average rate of one tweet every month.   

The PM used the account to wish Xi on his birthday every year but did not do so this time because of the Galwan Valley clash of June 15 in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese were killed.

Meanwhile, BJP’s IT wing head Amit Malviya said Modi’s decision to quit Weibo sends out a “loud and clear” message.

“Prime Minister Modi quits Chinese social media platform Weibo. The message is loud and clear. If red lines are crossed, there will be consequences… What started at the borders has now acquired multiple dimensions. And it may just be the beginning,” Malviya tweeted.

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