The Chinese are using a service similar to Twitter, called Weibo. The first post of the physician brought him more than a million of followers in a single day. In less than five hours, it has surpassed Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, who has around 820,000 fans after almost a year. “In my trips, I was able to touch only the surface of your culture and fascinating history,” wrote the scientist from Cambridge, both in English and in Chinese, to avoid any loss of information.
He also explained that he visited China for the first time in 1985, crossing the country by train, and the last time he was in the capital was back in 2006 for a Conference. The Chinese have a great respect for scientists and their intellectual performances, and the #HawkinsOpensToWeibo hashtag was among the top three popular topics, reaching more than 12 million page views in a few hours, according to Yahoo! Tech.
The authorities operate a very strictly system of online censorship, which blocks many foreign sites and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram but Weibo users were extremely enthusiastic about Hawking’s decision to drop by on Weibo. One of them described it as a historic moment. The most popular comment was one where the users were asked to keep a decent tone in order not to spoil the image of China in the face of public figures such as Hawking: “Please keep your comments elegant, for every sentence will influence the opinions of all about China.”
It’s a bit ironic that Stephen Hawking is so popular online, especially after he expressed, and not just once, the disapproval towards the momentum of science and technology: “the chances for a proportious disaster to occur on our planet in the next 1000 years is increasingly larger. However, we will be able to establish colonies in outer space over about a century. In the meantime, we must be very cautious, because the most important dangers to humans occurred as a result of the development of science and technology, ” explained the physicist in an interview with the Radio Times.