George Bush’s brother opens microblogging account in China

The brother of former US president George W. Bush has opened an account with the most popular microblogging service in China, where his musings on his daughter’s wedding have attracted tens of thousands of followers.

Neil Bush, who runs an oil company in Texas and is nine years younger than his better-known sibling, only opened his account with Sina’s Weibo — China’s answer to Twitter — on Tuesday, with the help of a Chinese-speaking assistant.

But by Friday morning, 41,418 people were following his posts on subjects ranging from China’s rapid development to the impending marriage of his daughter Lauren, a former model.

“I have been to China 80 times and am in awe of its development,” read one posting.

“I hope all Americans see China’s development has come a long way and can gain a better understanding of how China is growing into a global force.”

In another posting guaranteed to appeal to a Chinese audience, Bush described China’s champion hurdler Liu Xiang as “a hero” and a “great example for people all around the world”.

Describing himself as the “non-political member of a very political family”, Bush focuses his postings mainly on sports and family.

“As a father, this is an exciting week. My daughter Lauren will be married this Sunday,” he wrote.

China has the world’s largest online population, with 485 million Internet users, and last month the Internet giant Sina said its weibo, or microblogging site — the country’s biggest by far — had surpassed 200 million users.

The growing influence of weibos, which are harder to control than the country’s state-run media, appears to have worried Chinese authorities.

Last week a senior Communist Party official reportedly visited the offices of China’s top Internet companies to urge them to stop the spread of “false and harmful information”.

Many followers of Bush expressed doubts that the former president’s brother was really behind the microblog, but a Sina spokesman told AFP the postings were genuine.

Bush himself is following just three other weibos, belonging to Kai-fu Lee, the former head of US search engine Google’s China operations; the US Embassy in Beijing; and Chinese tennis star Li Na.

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George Bush’s brother opens microblogging account in China