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China's Leaders: Latest Net Celebrities?

China
Does Chinese President Hu Jintao give you goosebumps? Got the hots for Premier Wen Jiabao? Then Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily has the answer -- join their online fan club.

While Chinese politicians are not normally known for star appeal -- drabness and formal handshakes are more their style -- the People's Daily is making a stab at changing all that on their new "Jin and Bao Fans' Zone" site.

"It's to let fans who ardently love the general secretary and premier have a platform to express their emotions, have discussions and communicate," the newspaper wrote on its Web site on Thursday.

Hu is also general secretary of the Communist Party.

The site, which already has almost 97,000 registered fans, is full of stories about the two senior officials, and features pictures of them in happy poses with farmers, students and the aged.

Aficionados can even leave messages for the two.

"I really, really, really love our general secretary and premier!!!" wrote one supporter.

"Wishing big brother Hu and Baobao the best of health!" wrote another.

"Taotao and Baobao, I will certainly work hard!" said a third, using diminutive forms of their names, which would normally only be reserved for close family members.

Both have worked hard to cultivate men-of-the-people images, whether being filmed eating dumplings with coal miners or visiting AIDS patients.

Still, it is not the first time Wen has appeared online in similar fawning style.

He has his own Facebook site, though it is not clear whether he set it up himself. He also emerged the 10th most popular politician on the social networking site after May's earthquake in Sichuan, where he comforted weeping children.



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