British physicist Steven Hawking wrote his first Sina Weibo post on Tuesday morning, attracting over 1 million followers within hours.
"Greetings to my friends in China! It has been too long ...," Hawking wrote alongside a translated version of the post in Chinese at 10:12 am on Tuesday. Weibo users soon crowded in with over 314,000 comments expressing their joy and welcoming Hawking to the Chinese Net.
Hawking’s account was followed by 1.81 million Sina Weibo users as of press time, and the number is still soaring.
Many Sina Weibo users have expressed their surprise and joy at being able to communicate with the great physicist.
"Welcome to Weibo. I remember your last visit in China, it made me very excited at age of 15. Hope you’ll enjoy yourself here and share more with us," netizen Grat1 wrote in the first comment on Hawking’s post.
A comment by another Weibo user, which won over 41,000 likes, cautioned netizens to closely watch the wording of their comments because every sentence could affect people’s impressions of China.
Hawking’s account, registered on March 23, is managed by Hawking’s team in cooperation with Stradella Road, a Hollywood-based marketing and branding company.
Born on January 8, 1942, Hawking is well-known and respected in China not only for his achievements in physics, but also for the inspiring and encouraging story of his fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
"Hawking’s popularity shows the Chinese people’s great enthusiasm for science, especially among the young generation, which is inspiring for the country’s future," Steven Dong, a professor at the Communications University of China, told the Global Times.
Many foreign politicians and celebrities have established accounts on Sina Weibo, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise.
"The world’s leading scientists cannot give up on communicating with a country that has one-fourth of the world’s population and increasing influence," Dong added.