China launches 'Red Twitter'
Published 15/12/2010 | 16:11
China has launched "Red" Twitter, identical to the US micro-blogging website, except that its messages are designed to promote revolutionary spirit.
The Chinese site, run by the local propaganda department in the central city of Chongqing, has been formally named "Red Microblog" and has Bo Xilai, the local party secretary, as a proud user.
"I really like the words by Chairman Mao [Zedong] that 'The world is ours; we should work together'," one of Mr Bo's messages read.
Other messages on the home page included: "Work hard, be honest and treat others well", "There is no sky larger than the hand, no road longer than the feet, no mountain higher than the people, no sea wider than the heart", and "Those who go with the flow are forever going up and down in the waves; only those who go against the wind fearing no hardship, can reach the other side fast."
A statement on the site said the launch had been in response to a call from Li Changchun, China's Propaganda chief, for local governments to master new media. However, there still seemed to be a few issues to iron out – it was impossible to register as a new member on Wednesday and engineers said they were looking at the glitch.
Mr Bo has waged a campaign to turn Chongqing "red" since he took over as party secretary three years ago. Already, he has urged residents to sing red songs, from China's revolutionary era, read classical literature and tell stories about Chairman Mao's Long March.
They have also been encouraged to write text messages praising the country or the city. These were named "red text messages" by officials. China Central Television said that by October more than 120 million of these messages had been sent by local residents.
Meanwhile, a host of other Twitter clones have sprung up in China, although Twitter itself is censored. "The era of the microblog has hit China," said Dr Steven Dong at the Global Journalism Institute at Tsinghua university in Beijing. "This would not have been possible two years ago, but the Olympics, the Shanghai Expo and the Guangzhou Asian Games have affected China's politics, economy and culture," he said.
"This is a good platform for discovering and spreading news about mass incidents," he added, although he noted that newspapers are still more trusted.
According to EnfoDesk, a Chinese analyst, there will be 75 million microbloggers in China by the end of 2010, an 837pc increase from last year. The firm estimates that the number will double next year and then to 240 million by 2012.