A Selfie that has $10 trillion in GDP and 38% of world’s population (2.7 bn) behind it has gone viral.
Hu Shih, a noted Chinese philosopher, essayist and diplomat once said: India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border. He was right. India’s way of taking over China was of embrace, not acquisition.
Interestingly, the uptight, aloof and seemingly forever scheming politicians of China got an interesting lesson on public engagement from the Indian premier. Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi took a selfie which is being called the “World’s most powerful selfie”!
For a uptight Chinese leader, who doesn’t interact with the public much, Modi was first seen explaining to Li a bit about Selfie technique. Intrigued, the Chinese premier then took the selfie which will go down in history as the mightiest ever.
And, this comes on the heels of Modi’s embracing of China’s Twitter-equivalent Weibo! As we speak, Modi’s Chinese followers have crossed 125,000! The selfie itself has been shared clsoe to 57000 times!
In a country where Twitter has limited access, Modi’s use of Weibo and sharing of his visit in Chinese must have stunned the Chinese leadership. Now, Modi – and not the Chinese politburo – would set the agenda of the visit and even characterization of Modi and India! By taking the reigns of presenting himself to the Chinese people in his own hands instead of letting himself be defined by the Chinese spin, Modi in a way created a coup of sorts in diplomacy!
“Wouldn’t it be great if Premier Li had his own Weibo? Then we could respond to him directly.”
This quote from one Chinese Weibo user clearly illustrates the subtle discontent that has been sowed in the minds of the young Chinese via the clear distinct ways the two leaderships work. The distinction was also openly brought out in the local media during the Nepal earthquake crisis, where the Chinese response was slow, tardy and mute. Something that didn’t go down well with the Chinese people.
Will this change the ways and behavior of the Chinese establishment or not one doesn’t know, but Modi has at least shown his hosts that he is not a run-of-the-mill kind of politician from another country.