Beijing uses banned social media to promote Xi's U.S. visit

facebook xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping has broken his own rules ... by signing up for Facebook.

His verified Facebook (FB) page, "Xi's US Visit," has been full of status updates, photos and videos during his first official state visit. Since its first post to drum up interest about the trip in mid-September, the page has picked up about a million "likes," and is even pushing #XiUSAVisit as a trending social topic.

Followers can click through pictures of Xi speaking with top U.S. company executives; strolling with President Obama on White House grounds; and meeting Vice President Joe Biden with his wife, Peng Liyuan.

They can watch videos about the state dinner menu and listen to American high school students sing a Chinese tune originally sung by Peng, a trained singer. There are even infographics with facts about the history of U.S.-China relations.

Sure, lots of world leaders are on Facebook -- Obama is hugely popular with nearly 45 million likes, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has 1.4 million and UK Prime Minister David Cameron has about 750,000.

But they aren't in charge of countries that have banned Facebook outright. China's government censors -- dubbed the Great Firewall -- have blocked the social media network, along with other sites such as Google (GOOG) and Twitter (TWTR). Foreign news websites and broadcasts are often blacked out.

facebook xi infographic
This infographic is featured on Xi's Facebook page.

That means no matter how popular Xi gets on Facebook, the 1.3 billion folks back home won't be able to access his posts. Even more ironic: Photos of Xi meeting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg were also posted to the page.

The Chinese government propaganda machine is no stranger to Western social media -- despite it being blocked domestically. State media outlets such as Xinhua news agency and China Daily newspaper post frequent updates on Facebook and Twitter.

For Xi, however, there is one final social media frontier -- his Facebook page doesn't feature a single selfie.

Will Xi Jinping and President Obama discuss cybersecurity?
Will Xi Jinping and President Obama discuss cybersecurity?

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