Earlier this week, Bill Gates announced his arrival to the WeChat social media scene with some pretty painful Mandarin.
“Hello. Welcome to my official WeChat account,” Gates said in Chinese before switching to English for the rest of his inaugural WeChat video.
Though the 61-year-old can look back on some pretty impressive accomplishments over his life (including writing a People’s Daily editorial), mastering a foreign language has not been one of those. While Gates has expressed interest in learning Chinese in the past, it looks like he still has a long way to go to catch up with the likes of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, wrestling icon John Cena, or even presidential granddaughter Arabella Kushner.
Many of his Chinese fans commented that while they appreciate the effort, perhaps he should “stick to English” for the time being.
Gates said that he planned to use his new WeChat account “gatesnotes” to share stories about the people he was meeting, books he was reading, and things he was learning. He already keeps a personal blog online called “gatesnotes,” so its not clear if his WeChat account will be filled with new posts or reposts from that site.
With social media services like Twitter and Facebook blocked in China, more and more Western celebrities and influential figures have started to take to Chinese social media to talk directly to their Chinese fans.
Way back in 2010, Gates was one of the first to join Weibo where he now has 3.2 million followers, but until recently he only posted sporadically. After taking over a year off, he has posted four times already this week.
Will Bill Gates join forces with Stephen Hawking to rule Chinese social media? Only time will tell.
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