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George W. Bush’s younger brother Neil has just started microblogging – not on Twitter, nor in English, but on Sina (NSDQ: SINA) Weibo, in Chinese.
Why would the brother of an American president and son of another take to China’s largest microblog service over Twitter’s own? To make trans-continental business relationships…
Neil has several oil interests including as chairman of Houston-based TX Oil. According to this week’s unflattering Salon profile, The Return Of Neil Bush, “Chinese firms hire him to try to open doors in Africa, and U.S. companies retain him to do the same in Central Asia.”
Introducing himself on Weibo, Bush writes through a translator…
“I hope to help you understand my family, to promote understanding between the two countries … Liu Xiang (a hurdler) is my hero … There are always going to be issues that arise between two great countries … the truth is we have a lot in common! In the past 35 years, I have been to China 80 times and I am in awe of China’s development. I hope all Americans see China’s long journey of development in to a global force with better understanding.” He also writes about his daughter’s upcoming wedding.
Microblogging is currently exploding as a craze in China. Weibo has hit 200 million users (faster than Twitter did) and is empowering citizens who, for example, have managed to share information about and expose government mishandling of a big recent train crash. But is this how Weibo ends up going global? As a tool of global trade?
Nadaq-listed Sina plans to internationalise Weibo in English and has already started by taking it to Japan. It’s unlikely it can displace Twitter in English-speaking countries. But it seems Bush has already found one use for the service.
Salon, incidentally, pours scepticism, on Bush’s career, saying many Texan oil bosses have no recollection of Bush doing anything noteworthy and how: “Two decades ago, the Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) observed that his business ventures had ‘a history of crashing and burning in spectacular fashion,’ and time, alas, seems not to have improved his record.”