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Chinese premier debuts on Facebook

  • Story Highlights
  • Profile lists Wen's interests as Chinese literature and baseball
  • Overall sentiment of messages by supporters is one of pride
  • Wen traveled to hard-hit Sichuan province, hours after the May 12 earthquake hit
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, whose swift appearance at disaster sites has made him one of the nation's most popular figures and earned him the nickname Grandpa Wen, now has a profile on Facebook.

It's not clear who set up Wen's profile; the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Council Press Office both said they were not aware of the page.

Facebook, one of the Web's most popular social networking sites, allows users to create personal profiles. Fake profiles abound, however, with dozens for President Bush and a handful for Mother Teresa. At least one other profile of Wen exists on the site.

By early Wednesday, just two weeks since the profile's creation May 14, about 14,000 Facebook users had signed on as Wen's "supporters."

By comparison, Bush's profile boasted about 11,700 supporters, according to a "Browse the Politicians" feature. U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama led everyone, with 862,000 supporters.

The numbers for the Chinese premier reflect the growing popularity of Wen, who's become China's face of grief.

Just hours after the earthquake struck May 12 in southwestern China, Wen traveled to the hardest-hit Sichuan province, consoling and grieving with survivors. More than 67,000 people have been killed in the disaster.

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In January, when China suffered its worst winter storms in 50 years, Wen turned up at a rail station and apologized to the millions of travelers left stranded across the country.

It was a rare move for someone belonging to a leadership often perceived as distant.

Wen's Facebook profile was created two days after the 7.9-magnitude quake and bears his official government portrait, showing the 65-year-old wearing a gray suit, a multipatterned tie and a slight smile.

The page lists his interests as Chinese literature and the most American of pastimes, baseball.

The profile creator had uploaded a "We are the World"-style music video that interspersed horrific images of the quake's aftermath with shots of musicians wearing white T-shirts with "5-12" printed on them. Elsewhere, the site has a photo of Wen holding up a backpack and a white sneaker while standing atop rubble, and one of him wearing a baseball jersey and mitt.

The overwhelming sentiment of the messages was one of pride for the premier. "Go Grandpa Wen! Go China!" wrote Don Wong in Singapore.

"It is the nation's luck and the people's luck to have such a Premier," said Andy Guo in New York.

Facebook boasts more than 60 million active users. After creating personal profiles, users can connect with one another, upload photos and share links.

In February, a computer engineer in Morocco was sentenced to three years in prison for creating a profile of Prince Moulay Rachid, the king's younger brother.

The engineer, Fouad Mourtada, was later freed by a royal pardon. But in the meantime, users created at least seven fake profiles for the prince on Facebook.

CNN's Yuli Yang contributed to this report

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