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Yearender: Officials surge to microblogging as government departments adopt new dialogs with public

By Yan Hao, Zhang Chunxiao and Liang Linlin (Xinhua)

08:45, December 14, 2011

BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Officials joining China's online revolution by starting their own microblogs has been one of the trends of 2011, and it shows government departments have embraced a form of communication which they previously held in disdain.

Political observers said on Tuesday that in bursting into online conversation with citizens, the government has learned to listen and share information much better with the country's 300 million microbloggers through the Internet.

The number of accounts verified as being managed by government officials or departments on Sina Weibo, China's major Twitter-like microblog service, has surged to nearly 20,000, according to a report unveiled on Monday.

The first official government microblog in China was started by Yunnan's provincial government in November 2009, when Sina Weibo was just beginning to attract domestic users.

Since then, more and more government agencies and officials have joined the microblogging army, whether it's to provide short government news bulletins on a regular basis, just for show, or out of fear of being left behind.

The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, the China International Search and Rescue Team and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have become the top three influential government microbloggers in terms of both followers and other microblogging factors, according to the report.

Among all the microblogs, more than 10,000 are updated by government agencies and about 9,000 by individual officials, according to the report, compiled by a research team for public-opinion monitoring website

"These official microblog accounts have enabled direct interaction between government departments, officials and Sina Weibo's 250 million registered users," said Sina Weibo's editor-in-chief Chen Tong.

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