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WantChinaTimes:China's government offcials open up to microblogs

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As the influence of public opinion expressed in microblogs grows stronger, more of China's local governments are gradually adopting this technology to communicate with the public, according to a report from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

4,920 government departments and 3,949 government officials have now opened microblog accounts at weibo.com, according to data compiled by China Daily.

The report examined micro-blogging in China during the first half of 2011 and analyzed its influence on governments, companies and the media.

As a result of the popularity of microblogs for Chinese netizens, microblogging provides a more convenient platform for the expression of opinion and in response, the ability of several government departments in dealing with the public was maturing, according to the report.

"Noticing such changes, more government departments and officials are resorting to microblogs to communicate and hopefully win more support from the public while improving their public profile," said Xie Yungeng, deputy director of the university's institute of arts and humanities.

According to the report, the top ten government microblogs had a total of 5.08 million followers in the first half of 2011 with an average of 6,055 entries for each microblog.

The top 100 government official microblogs are mainly from Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces and Beijing municipality. About 63% of officials' microblogs are county-level or below while about 75% of them are public security departments.

"The work of public security departments is much more involved with daily life, with things such as transport and public safety. So they account for the majority in the top rank," Xie explained.

In addition, traditional media are using microblogs to expand their influence and communication channels.