Yunnan announces microblog for information transparency

By Ji Beibei from Global Times Direct link: http://china.globaltimes.cn/society/2009-11/488092.html Yunnan Province’s publicity department has launched a microblog on the Internet to encourage the public to comment on policies implemented by the provincial government. The blog was launched Saturday. “We found it necessary to enhance the transparency of government information releasing and learn the public’s reaction,” Gong Fei, an official at local government publicity department, told the Global Times Thursday. Visitors could open accounts and make comments on t.sina. com.cn. They just need to click the button “My concern” on t.sina.com.cn/1662558237. Microblogging is multimedia blogging that allows users to send short text messages plus photos and audio clips, and publish them. Each entry should be less than 140 characters. Yunnan government is the first provincial government to “eat the crab,” a Chinese idiom used to describe a person trying something new before everyone else. Microblogging also works as a channel for the public to know what officials are doing and about how the government has handled some unexpected incidents, Gong said. One of the blog entries was the protest organized by merchants at a market in Luosiwan last Saturday. Some 100 merchants blocked the road around the market to protest a government plan to relocate the market in a suburban area. “The job of the government is to serve the people, and it has to understand public opinions. It should not only care about its political achievements while ignoring the interest of the public,” an Internet user commented. Another Internet user was more radical, saying, “Those people who earn high salary do not sincerely care about the major public.” “We have made it a routine to check in the microblogging daily and report and discuss those remarks which we think are important,” said Zhao Bo, another official from the department. About 8,556 Web users have signed up on the blog as of 7 pm Thursday. “Setting the platform is only the beginning and the more challenging work is how to make it work,” added Zhao. Hu Yong, a communication expert at Peking University, told the Global Times that it’s still unclear if the microblog would be effective and if government could respond well to public scrutiny. He said the blog should include real time news. “What kind of information the government will publish is also a question,” said Zhou Shuguang, a network engineer from Hunan Province. Dry information, such as officials drafting some documents, might lead to loss of interests and trust on the microblog, Zhou added. Microblogging, though a fresh thing in recent years, has become increasingly popular, especially among the young. Famous sites such as Twitter boasts over 44 million hits alone in June, the marketing research company comScore said in August.

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