Chinese officials reach out with micro blogs

15:55, December 10, 2010      

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Not only has micro-blogging become the trendiest social networking model for Chinese netizens, it has also been increasingly utilized by government officials as a means of communication with the public.

More and more Chinese authorities are resorting to Twitter-like micro blogs to communicate and hopefully win the support of the public, building images contrary to the otherwise drab portrait of Chinese officials who tend to be restrained and stuck to scripted lines.

Recently, 21 courts in Shanghai opened online micro-blogging accounts at xinmin.cn, a local news portal. They have so far generated 1,900 fans and followers in two months since Oct 8.

The move, possibly the first of its kind nationwide, aims to facilitate communication between the courts and the public, said Shen Gang, coordinator at the Higher People's Court of Shanghai. Shen is responsible for operating and monitoring the courts' micro blogs.

"We intend to present and promote the image of Chinese courts to the public by using modern information technology," he said. "We could also have a better understanding of what the public really wants to know through posting messages and receiving feedbacks."

More than 1,300 pieces of information have so far been released through the courts' micro blogs, including announcements, pictures, video files as well as responses to inquiries and questions posed by Internet users, Shen said.

But netizens still want to see more flexibility in the courts' communication with the public.

One netizen, under the tag of Wuyuzegang, said there is a lack of efficiency in the release of information from the courts. The netizen said they should invite public participation in discussing corruption cases and other issues.

Shen said that they did have problems in ensuring the efficient release of information when the micro blog began but are now gradually adapting to the needs of the public.

"There are huge differences between the traditional means of information release of Chinese officialdom and micro-blogging, which allows a maximum of 140 words in a single message and therefore demands far greater efficiency and conciseness ... It has offered us a great opportunity to learn how to deliver messages in the most efficient way," he said.

"All of the micro blogs of the Shanghai courts are monitored by us, and our focus is to find out what are the main concerns of the public."

Micro-blogging, or weibo as it is called by Chinese netizens, was launched only a little more than a year ago in China but has already gained about 50 million users. It is growing at a rapid pace in China, the world's biggest Internet market by users.
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(Editor:梁军)

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