President Obama's jokes at White House Correspondents' dinner a hit with tech-savvy Chinese

(CBS News) President Obama's jokes at the White House Correspondents' dinner last weekend traveled around the world -- even into China, where some tech-savvy fans found a way to watch the American president.

Though Twitter and Facebook are both blocked in China, nearly half-a-million Chinese watched the annual Washington event through Weibo, a micro-blogging site.

At a Beijing cafe and book shop, CBS News met 32-year-old Robert Fan, 33-year-old Alison San and 30-year-old Shen Shen Sung.

Shen Shen said the dinner is "very popular" to watch in China. "President Obama is like...he is kind of a star on the show, kind of comedy star."

Elaborating, Shen Shen said, "He come in and say 'second round baby' - it started everything. It was so fun to watch. It was just so new -- just so fresh."

Alison said, "I really love the picture, you know, of Obama with Michelle's bangs...it's really funny -- really goofy."

Alison told CBS News it was an enjoyable way to practice her English. Robert said poking fun at one's self shows confidence.

Asked whether this use of humor is seen among Chinese leaders, Robert said, "Not so often. We would like to see them get more open-minded and to make more fun of themselves. ... Sense of humor, I think, is a pillar of the free society, and I think it is a very good and a very safe way to cut the tension between the government and the community."

Shen Shen says humor makes politicians accessible.

CBS News' Seth Doane asked Shen Shen to compare President Obama's approach to that of Chinese leaders.

Shen Shen replied, "Please don't compare with leaders. Just normal people, our friends -- our generation."

Doane asked, "Why don't you want to compare leaders?"

Shen Shen said, "It's sensitive -- very sensitive."

It may be very sensitive for now, but this generation is peering into another world, and seeing a piece of themselves. Alison said a sense of humor is "a universal language." She added, "Every people in the world like to enjoy a good piece of humor and a smile."

Watch Seth Doane's full report in the video above.

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