At China's 35th National Day celebration in 1984, university students in Tian'anmen Square suddenly unfurled a banner with the characters: "Xiaoping nihao!" (Greetings, Xiaoping!) to show their appreciation for retired leader Deng Xiaoping.
Today, there is a much easier and faster way to express affection for China's leaders - join their online fan club.
While Chinese politicians are not normally known for their star appeal - blandness and formal handshakes are more their style - the website of the official People's Daily is trying to change all that on their new "Jin and Bao Fan Zone".
This is where fans "who ardently love Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have a platform to express their emotions, have discussions and communicate," the website announced when the zone was launched September 4.
By Tuesday afternoon, the zone already had about 177,000 registered fans, was full of stories about the two leaders, and featured pictures of them in happy poses with farmers, students and the elderly.
The soaring number of registrations even caused a temporary shutdown of the zone in the first two days of its launch.
After registration, aficionados receive a red online certificate and can leave messages for the two leaders. By Tuesday, there were more than 13,800 messages.
"Wishing big brother Hu and Baobao the best of health! Have a happy Mid-Autumn Day!" wrote a supporter.
"Brother Hu was really handsome when he was young!" said another.
"Taotao and Baobao, both of you are good leaders. I love you!" said a third, using the diminutive forms of their names, which would normally be reserved for close family members.
"Using the diminutive forms of the leaders' names is not a sign of disrespect. Rather, it shows how close the leaders and the people are," said Jiang Tao, a student from Peking University.
Both men have worked hard at getting closer to common people. They eat dumplings with coal miners or farmers during the spring festival holidays and visit AIDS patients on World's AIDS Day. The leaders also get online regularly and both have said that they pay attention to opinions people express on the Internet.
Premier Wen has his own Facebook and became the 10th most popular politician on the social networking site after he visited the Sichuan earthquake devastation in May.
According to the People's Daily, fans are mainly post-'80s youths, a group that has been generally considered indifferent to politics.
"The popularity of the site shows politics is popular among the young," said Xia Xueluan, professor of sociology at Peking University.
Xia said the site bridges the gap between the leaders and the public. "Politicians are no longer so far out of reach, nor is politics," he said.
Jiang Tao said his parents also love the two leaders, but they are not used to the Internet or to expressing their affection so directly. "I think that's why most of the Internet fans are young," he said.
Ji Xiang, from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong province, said: "This fan club is so different from those of a singer or a movie star. It shows our appreciation of the hard work of these two leaders."
The link to the "Jin and Bao Fan Zone" is: (http://politics.people.com.cn/GB/8198/132796/index.html)