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Officials keen on increasing microblog dialogues with public

(Xinhua)

09:51, July 13, 2012

BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese officials want to communicate more with the general public and grass-root civilian staff through microblog, according to a Thursday report by Chinanews.com.

In a latest example, a provincial official in east China's Zhejiang province had a "talk" on Wednesday with 6,000 graduate-turned village officials and users of t.sohu.com, one of China's major microblogging sites.

Yao Zhiwen, deputy head of the Organization Department of Communist Party of China (CPC) Zhejiang provincial committee, answered a volley of "aggressive" questions and recorded complaints and suggestions from the Internet users during the two-hour dialogue, or as someone described, a "microblog talk show."

"I am fully prepared to hear some complaints even condemning voices," Yao was quoted as saying. He believed the talk could get him closer to the "real voices" from the public and grass-root staff.

Microblog accounts run by officials or departments amounted to 50,561 as of the end of 2011, according to a report released by the National Academy of Administration earlier this month.

Direct online communication between officials and the public helps to eliminate the gap between the different stratums and form a scientific decision-making process, Fan Yugang, professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said in the report.

Sina, which runs China's biggest microblogging site Weibo.com, publicized in May operation standards explicitly reminding the official Weibo accounts to not abstain from interacting with the netizens and releasing information.

During Zhejiang official Yao's talk with citizens, a graduate-turned village official complained that local village officials are poorly paid. Yao reported that immediately to the head of local Organization Department Cai Qi, the Chinanews report says.

Cai Qi has 6.8 million followers on t.qq.com.

A favorable social response was also received in May after Chen Li, a police officer in northwest China's Shaanxi province, released a post on Weibo.com inviting migrant workers for dinner. On May 27, the police officer treated 11 migrant workers and their families with a local specialty -- pita bread soaked in mutton soup.

Improving the government's image was not the aim of opening official microblog accounts, said Hu Yong, associate professor with the School of Journalism & Communication, Peking University.

"Officials should face up to people's appeals and solve problems so as to practically serve the people, that's the aim," He said.

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