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UPDATED: January 24, 2011 NO. 4 JANUARY 27, 2011
Micro-blogs Change China

The year 2010 is being called Year One for micro-blogging in China. More than 20 percent of the events that spread through the Internet in 2010 and attracted nationwide attention or global attention were tied to micro-blogs in some way. Many of these events were first reported in micro-blogs and rapidly became the focus of Chinese people's concern. In fact, micro-blogs often affected how these events developed. In the past year, micro-blogging has emerged not only as a new platform for communication but has also served as a means of keeping a watchful eye on government activities and combating corruption. In addition, micro-blogs have been used in marketing and to help advance the public good.

When sina.com, the largest Web portal in China, first launched its micro-blog in August 2009, "micro-blog" was still a new and unfamiliar term for most Chinese people. However, micro-blogs experienced explosive growth in just one short year, with the number of micro-blog operators, registered users and visitors increasing several times. By the end of October 2010, more than 125 million people in China had been using micro-blogs, with 65 million using them regularly.

Compared with blogs, which have been around for years in China, micro-blogs are brief and spread swiftly across various media. Thus, micro-blogging is easier and more convenient than blogging and encourages individuals to act like news reporters. Ever-increasing numbers of people now express opinions via the Internet. Micro-blog users include people from all corners of society, including celebrities, experts, scholars and the general public. Many people use micro-blogs to follow the lives of celebrities or simply for online social contact.

Many government officials and departments are now also using micro-blogs as a means to gather public opinion and communicate with people. Micro-blogs have penetrated every aspect of Chinese society, becoming an efficient means of promoting a healthy and democratic society.

Hot topics to attract people's concern in 2010 included government and academic corruption, the wealth gap, and food and drug safety, among others. Micro-blogs help to root out illegal activities and injustice by bringing them to the attention of the public.

Micro-blogs have also created a new means for carrying out charitable work and improving public welfare. For example, micro-blogs have been used in soliciting donations for disaster relief, searching for missing people and improving animal protection.

A report issued by a public opinion research institute at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2010 predicted the number of Chinese micro-blog users would increase sharply during 2012 and 2013.

Micro-blogs have greatly increased the voice of the Chinese public. Micro-blogs are changing the media landscape and even how government communicates with the citizenry. Due to the fast growth and high impact of micro-blogs, they have made communication more transparent and created a dynamic new platform for the equal exchange of information among all people.

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