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Local authority in E. China uses microblog to publicize delinquent payments

(Xinhua)

19:15, December 23, 2011

NANJING, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- Microblogs, a burgeoning and popular type of social media in China, are being used by over 300 million to interact and share ideas with their friends. But in the capital of east Jiangsu province, microblogs have taken a new role.

The Nanjing water supply and saving management department is using its microblog to request payments of overdue bills of a local company, which draws public attention.

From Monday to Wednesday, the Nanjing water supplier made 11 entries on its official microblog at Weibo.com, Sina's Twitter-like microblog service, demanding that Nanjing Chemical Industries pay for sewage treatment fees totaling 100 million yuan (15.8 million U.S. dollars) over the past five years.

The payment records that the department posted on its microblog suggest that the chemical company, affiliated with the state-owned petroleum giant Sinopec, hasn't paid the fees since 2006, except for 800,000 yuan in 2007 and 500,000 yuan in 2008.

But in a statement, the chemical company said that it was "deeply hurt" by the accusations.

Nanjing residents are charged 1.3 yuan for sewage treatment for each cubic meter of water.

According to the materials from the chemical company, as one of the main water consumers in the city, they also provide running water and sewage treatment for residents in its neighboring area.

The company has been suffering a deficit of nearly 38.8 million yuan from 2006 due to the investment in equipment maintenance and its clients' overdue bills.

The company said it will be able to pay its overdue fees when it receives overdue payments from its own customers.

Local officials said they decided to use Weibo to publicize the overdue bills because they had no other alternative.

"We have tried almost every means to solve the problem, face-to-face negotiations, sending officials documents, making telephone calls, but every time, the chemical company refused to corporate," said a staff worker surnamed Zhao. "We are performing our duties according to the law, but they have been rude and unreasonable."

With surging popularity of microblogs, government bodies and officials are employing it as a new way to interact and communicate with the public.

The municipal government of Beijing and Shanghai have each launched their official microblogs to release news and information.

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