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Xinhua's twitter, no big deal?

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency has a twitter account! This seemingly breaking news broke out rather quietly on China’s Internet on Dec 11, and not even listed as the most talked about topics on Sina Weibo, China’s own version of twitter.

Screen capture of Xinhua's twitter account as of 10:03 am Dec 12, Beijing Time. Photo: Sino-US.com

Apparently Xinhua has been managing its official account @XHNews on twitter.com, which is considered as an “illegal website” in China, since February 9, twitted its first post on March 1, and has nearly 7,000 followers as of December 12, which saw a much steeper rise since the news broke out. It has allegedly followed over 400 people, before gradually un-following all of them when people from inside China got wind of these "clandestine" activites.

Of course it hasn’t evaded the “western imperialists'” eyes. On December 2, The Economist, an authoritative magazine widely popular among Chinese students and intellectuals, published an article on its website titled “Microblogging and the world: Intweetable”, in which it mentioned Xinhua’s twitter account which was used to broadcast news on the 18th Party Congress.

It was this leak that finally brought the attention of the Chinese to Xinhua’s twitter, even though as early as April, in an article in China’s Chinese Journalist magazine, which was run by Xinhua itself, it was already mentioned that the Agency introduced “the new media” in the reporting of the two sessions, which had “positive effects” and had “established a solid battleground on twitter”.

According to a detailed report on cn.ibtimes.com, the reporter has tried in vain to get Xinhua Agency to comment on its twitter account. The staff interviewed either claimed they didn’t know about it, or said that that it is a matter to ask the spokesperson about and they are not in the position to comment. Sino-US.com has also failed to get comments from Weibo celebrities such as Gao Xiaosong (@高晓松) and Old Xu Comment (@老徐时评) who are usually rather outspoken about current affairs, for unknown reasons.

The reactions from the Chinese internet users are lukewarm at best. Quite the contrary to the so-called “miffed” or “furious” “uproar” reported by certain media, most responses showed a mature attitude of the Chinese netizens, who are rather happy to make sarcastic ridicules about this ironic discovery. Many jokingly asked for Xinhua’s tip as to which “wall-climbing” software (Note: “wall” refers to China’s “Great Firewall” the government imposed on the Chinese netizens, blocking many western popular websites within the country) it used to access twitter. Others “threatened” to report its “illegal activity”.

@Daily News (@每日新闻报): Brother Xinhua, you are fighting in the depth of the “tiger den” (Note: Chinese idiom for a dangerous place, usually in the enemy’s domain), it’s touching as well as dangerous. How about taking us together for this espionage work?

@soulbossanova: To climb the wall is not as good as dismantling it all together.

@Kalike nutcake(卡里克切糕): Democracy is a complicated thing, so complicated that it is the only thing that the Chinese have not successfully duplicated.

@Sea breathe of Pitcairn (皮特凯恩的海风): What happens if the evil capitalism learns our advanced thoughts and technology now that Xinhua is using the forbidden and illegal website? LOL

@Konhon: Lift the ban on twitter, facebook and Google as soon as possible! The country should at least have the confidence to do that!

@ Mu and Xixi(木与西西): Haha, if you don’t do the wall-climbing, you won’t even know whether Xinhua is telling the same thing to the world as it does in China. But us despicable citizens do not need to know all that.

 

Editor’s Note: You think “The Party” didn’t know its people will learn about it eventually? You think you have caught it doing something stupid? Well, it probably is not the case. In this game of manoeuvring and out-manoeuvring, perhaps it is still too early to tell who is the winner. After 63 years, the party knows a thing or two about its people. To think that it is not getting better at its game, well, that would be foolish.


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