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China: Beijing Police Launch Blogs to Boost Transparency
Source: Xinhua
Source Date: Monday, August 02, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: China
Created: Aug 09, 2010

Police authorities in Beijing launched a microblog, blogs and a podcast on Sunday in the latest move in its public relations campaign.

This came about half a month after police in the Chinese capital set up a public relations office to enhance transparency and interaction with residents.

The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau officially launched its new media services at the news portals sina.com, sohu.com and 163.com and video-sharing site ku6.com after a three-day trial.

The services, branded as "Safe Beijing", offer a new communication channel between police and the general public. Microblogs, for example, have become a quick and popular source of news and information for increasingly more Chinese citizens.

Fu Zhenghua, head of the bureau, said last month that law enforcement activities could easily be hot topics in the media and among the public in this highly open and transparent Internet era.

"With the aid of modern technology, we hope to communicate with residents and vulnerable groups with frankness and sincerity, as well as promote social justice," said Fu.

In the first microblog post, the bureau pledged to offer the latest police affairs news, anti-fraud tips and stories of model community police.

The bureau has posted dozens of practical anti-fraud and anti-theft tips and police affairs news, including training programs for special police and stories about model police officers serving their first day on the police force.

More than 17,600 people logged onto the microblog service on Sunday and some posts received hundreds of comments.

Most welcomed the services, saying it can bridge the gap between police and average citizens and change the traditionally mysterious and superior image of police officers.

"This is really a good thing. Let's applaud the social progress and gradual government openness," said netizen Tongtianniu.

"Welcome! It is badly needed to face directly to public opinion now," said netizen Lijiazhufu.

Some netizens, however, blasted the services as "too official", calling on police authorities to use simpler words and sentences in the microblog posts.

Liu Dawei, head of the bureau's new public relations office, said the staff in her office would accept netizens' opinions and suggestions in a sincere and open-minded way.

"We will strive to build a bridge of interaction and equal communication," Liu said.

"The microblog can be used as a good way to solicit public opinion. For a public security department, I believe it can help solve criminal cases by widely obtaining clues from the public," said Huang Qiliang, a translator with a global non-profit organization.

In the past, police authorities have been criticized for their being passive or not responding to some cases, even after details had previously been published in widely read media reports.

Wang Dawei, a professor at the Chinese People's Public Security University, said with the new services the police have made a positive shift from passive actions to taking the initiative.

In addition, the general public can offer clues for criminal cases, as they are the main force in curbing crimes, Wang said.
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