BEIJING, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- News coverage of China's top leaders has long been regarded as being exclusive to official media.
However, a personal microblog on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, which has released exclusive photos and other news regarding China's top leader Xi Jinping, has raised eyebrows with its candid coverage.
"What's going on? Why is it quicker and closer than we are?" read a Tuesday post written by national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Sina Weibo.
Netizens have become increasingly curious about the blog, titled "Xuexifensituan" ("Learning From Xi Fan Club"), which covers the latest moves made by Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, during his inspection tours.
Entries on the blog are often written in the style of a tabloid, with brief phrases ("he's returned to the hotel") describing Xi's whereabouts. However, the posts are exclusive and always come ahead of reports from official media.
Sometimes there are rare first-hand pictures -- distant shots of Xi dozing in a van or photos taken by a shaky camera while Xi walks through a crowd of people.
The microblogger refers to Xi as "Xi Dada," a term that translates as "Uncle Xi" in some parts of China. "Pingping," a dual-syllable nickname often used by intimate friends or relatives, is also used to describe China's top leader.
The blog has attracted nearly 500,000 followers since going online in November 2012. Although the information contained in the blog has interested the public, netizens are also curious about the real identity of the blog's owner.
The blog does not feature a "V" emblem, a mark which indicates that the blog owner's identity has been verified by Sina Weibo. The only clues are profile details stating that the blog's owner is a female from northwest China's Shaanxi province.
The mysterious blog is suspected to be maintained by someone very close to Xi, as the information it contains is supposed to be unavailable to the public and some of its photos were shot from vantages close to Xi.
A Sunday entry detailing Xi's recent inspection tour in northwest China's Gansu province mentioned that Xi's plane had arrived in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu. However,it added, Xi himself was not on the plane because he changed his scheduled route.
"Who on earth is the blogger? Is it a bodyguard of Xi, or is it Xi himself?" asked Weibo user "Shuijierlovemaomao."
The blog's owner has denied claims that he or she is close to Xi. "I am just an ordinary office worker, not a CPC member, nor an official," an entry on the blog said.
The entry claimed that the information and pictures featured on the blog were collected online or contributed by local residents.
"I think I have the right to choose and follow my own idol. I like Xi and also look forward to the movements of the new CPC leadership," the post said.
Some netizens have noticed that some of the photos posted on the blog were taken from posts written by other people.
Under the current political system and news reporting practices in China, the existence of such a blog seems "unusual," said Zhang Zhi'an, an expert on new media analysis at Sun Yat-sen University.
However, Zhang said the posts have helped to make Xi look more accessible.
"The popularity of the microblog reflects the public's eagerness to know more about the country's leaders and to shorten the distance between them," said a commentary that was published in the Wednesday edition of the Qianjiang Evening News.