Visiting Israeli President Shimon Peres accepted a live video interview by news portal sina.com on Thursday, making him the first head of state to be interviewed on a Chinese social media platform.
The 91-year-old president discussed topics including the situation in the Middle East, Sino-Israeli cooperation and simplifying visa procedures for Chinese people traveling to Israel.
According to statistics released by Sina, more than 12 million people watched the 30-minute-long live interview.
Peres, who visited China from Tuesday to Thursday, also joined Sina Weibo, China's most popular social network. Some 200 world leaders have now joined Weibo, including British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Peres had gained over 170,000 followers as of press time. They expressed curiosity towards Israeli culture.
Eytan Tepper, an Israeli law professional in Beijing, told the Global Times that Peres always supports new technologies and likes to talk to young people. "So in social media he can embrace and encourage new technologies and talk directly to the young people in their 'place,'" he said. "He is a man of visions. That suits him."
Peres spoke about Israel-Palestine relations in the interview. "We think they [the Palestinians] have the right to be independent, we have the right to be independent and live as friends and neighbors not one inside others but one on the side of others in friendly and good relations," he said.
"So I think it's accepted by the two peoples and the fact that the two peoples agree to it makes it very important and very promising."
President Xi Jinping Tuesday said that he hopes Israel can be "brave" in pushing peaceful talks between Israel and Palestine.
"Israel and some other Middle East countries are growingly turning to China for cooperation as the US changed its strategy to spare some of its focus from the Middle East to Asia. It is the trend that multiple parties will participate in dealing with the situation in the Middle East," said Li Weijian, a professor with Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.
Peres is using public diplomatic channels to win the Chinese people as he knows that Chinese people have a good impression of Israel, even though in the past China has had more friendly relations with Arab countries, Li noted.
Responding to Net users' questions on Israel's limitation on exporting high-tech products to China, Peres said exporting products such as weapons, agricultural and medical equipment is always on the agenda and Israel is trying to look for ways to increase its cooperation with China.
"Limitations on high-tech weapons exports to China mainly result from US willingness," Li said, but noted that boosting economic cooperation with China is also on its agenda.