Chinese send fake Trump tweets as jokes, New Year wishes

BEIJING — In China, Twitter is blocked, but fake tweets by @realdonaldtrump look set to become the latest internet sensation.

Users are flocking to websites that let them generate images of fake tweets that look just like those sent from U.S. President Donald Trump's distinctive personal Twitter account — replete with his avatar and a real-time timestamp.

• @realdonaldtrump would like to wish you a Happy Chinese New Year, says one, referencing the holiday that fell this year on Saturday.

• @realdonaldtrump thinks Shanghai Jiaotong University is better than its crosstown rival.

• @realdonaldtrump wants to buy a jianbing (typical Chinese street food) and wants Mexico to pay for it.

• @realdonaldtrump's "favorite boy band" is the South Korean group GOT7: "They are so cute!"

Jike, a Shanghai-based startup running one such website, said Thursday that in just four days, users have created more than a million fake @realdonaldtrump tweets in Chinese and English, often mimicking Trump's tone and fondness for exclamation marks. They are being shared on Chinese social networking sites to crack jokes, tout online goods and send Lunar New Year greetings.

The fake Trump tweets circulating on Chinese social media reflect how Trump's use of Twitter is even seeping into the popular consciousness of a country where Twitter has been blocked by censors for years.


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Although Trump's comments on trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea have raised concerns in Beijing, there is a certain fascination about Trump among some young Chinese who see him as a symbol of American showmanship but overlook his anti-China rhetoric, at least for now.

"For young Chinese people, Trump has an extremely iconic image," said Lin Hang, a co-founder of Jike. "His Twitter content can easily spark conversations in China. His language style is very recognizable. So when netizens put their everyday life musings or roasts in his voice, it provokes a certain reaction, a certain resonance."

Jike rolled out the website on Sunday, Lin said. Employees at the startup, which mainly produces a personalized news app, started sharing it with their friends that night as a joke.

It spread quickly from China's highly educated, English-speaking internet circles to other social groups and smaller cities, Lin said.

Despite tight government controls over online discourse, particularly surrounding sensitive domestic news, China's 700 million internet users have a freewheeling web culture that churns out a running stream of commentary, memes and wisecracks about international news.

Along with Twitter, other foreign social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube are also inaccessible within China. But many Chinese use software to circumvent the ban.

Thief in Germany drives tractor through wall, steals safe

BERLIN — Police in northwestern Germany are searching for a brazen thief — or thieves — who knocked down the wall of a house with a tractor and made off with a safe.

Police say the tractor was used early Thursday morning to bash down the wall of the home in the town of Buende, west of Hannover, according to the dpa news agency.

The thief or thieves grabbed the safe and fled, and the John Deer farm tractor was left halfway inside the house.

Authorities say the home's residents weren't harmed in the robbery but refused to say what was being kept in the safe or to give any further information because of the ongoing investigation.

Associated Press