United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon started his three-day visit to China by talking with Chinese micro blog users in a live interactive chat session on Tuesday.
"I am glad to communicate with so many Chinese young men and women here," he told followers of the UN channel on Sina Weibo, a popular micro-blogging platform in Chinese.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told China Daily, "The secretary-general specifically wanted to connect with the young people of China. He is encouraged by their enthusiasm and energy. He said it was a great experience. He also values the important conversations he will have with the Chinese leadership."
Beginning at 7:30 pm from his hotel, Ban answered nine questions on issues including the role of the UN head; peacekeeping; sustainable development; urbanization; and even his personal feelings about his job.
Ban compared diplomacy to calligraphy, most of which is "behind the scenes" and looks effortless. But he said he doesn't mind how difficult the job is since he has a goal to peacefully resolve complicated problems and realize common well-being.
The one-hour conversation was conducted in English and simultaneously interpreted into Chinese.
Since Monday, Sina Weibo users have submitted more than 16,000 questions through a special page dedicated to Ban's appearance on the platform.
Ban has valued communication with the public, especially the younger generation. In September, Ban became the first UN chief to hold a live "global conversation" with the public through Facebook, LiveStream, Twitter, Sina Weibo and other social media networks.
Leaders around the world and the UN attach great importance and continue to provide support to young people's efforts to resolve global problems through social networks, Ban said.
This generation of youth, "the largest in history", has tremendous potential and very grave challenges, said the UN chief. He called on the international community to continue working together to increase opportunities for these young women and men and answer their legitimate demands for dignity, development and decent work.
Zhang Xiao'an, vice-president of China's UN Association, said the UN has the responsibility to keep close ties with the public worldwide and listen to its suggestions through various channels.
"Many Chinese young people now especially care about those issues concerning China, and would like to actively participate in the UN's work," she said.
It is Ban's fifth visit to China since taking the job in 2007, and the first after assuming his second term earlier this year. In Beijing, Ban will meet Chinese leaders and attend the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Thursday.
Ban spoke highly of China's leading role to encourage South-South cooperation, citing the forum as an example of how China is helping developing countries to achieve greater progress.