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Into the Blogosphere
Cover Stories Series 2012> Into the Blogosphere
UPDATED: January 18, 2012 NO. 4 JANUARY 26, 2012
A New Interactive Platform

In 2011, the number of government-initiated micro-blogs grew exponentially. The number of verified micro-blog accounts backed by government agencies and officials on Sina Weibo, China's biggest Twitter-like micro-blog service, doubled within six months and reached 17,000, covering almost all Chinese administrative organs. Government departments in every province, municipality and autonomous region on the Chinese mainland now maintain micro-blogs.

The rapid development of government micro-blogs is part of an explosion of interest in micro-blogs which began in 2010, dubbed the "Year of the Micro-blog in China." The government has been using micro-blog accounts to increase transparency and connect with the people. According to the 28th Statistical Report on Internet Development in China published by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the number of netizens in China had reached 485 million by the end of June 2011 and the number of micro-blog users had surged by 208.9 percent to reach 195 million from 2010's 63.11 million.

Micro-blogs have a 140-character limit per post and can be updated through computers and mobile phones from virtually anywhere at anytime, which enables government agencies to promote social services and government officials to interact with ordinary citizens.

Government micro-blogs are playing an increasingly important role in promoting government work and supervising government activities.

In 2010, for example, the Shanghai Metro opened its official micro-blog, which provides information on train operations and passenger flow in the country's most complicated subway system. During the difficult period preceding the 2012 Spring Festival holiday travel surge, the Shanghai Metro has been posting information on road and rail conditions four times an hour.

During emergencies such as the July 23 high-speed train crash and the rush to purchase salt and water after the March 11 Japan earthquake in 2011, government micro-blogs also played an important role in quelling rumors and alleviating the public's anxiety by publishing accurate information in real-time. During the 2011 Spring Festival, more than 800 police micro-blogs nationwide collaborated to provide live updates on the latest security development and transportation.

The rise of government micro-blogs is a symbol of the further modernization of China's administrative system. These micro-blogs are changing the way information is disseminated in the country and are also changing the way government departments receive and process information.

Ultimately, however, government micro-blogs are just a communication tool. To ordinary people, much more importance lies in the service system behind the micro-blog. Only by publishing timely, accurate information, solving problems, and being transparent, considerate and highly efficient, can government micro-blogs truly serve the public.

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