BEIJING, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- At around 9 p.m.
Tuesday, the microblogger "Safe Beijing" finished the last update of the
day by issuing eight tips on the prevention of carbon monoxide
poisoning, as a continuing cold snap has forced some Beijing citizens
living in bungalows to burn coal for warmth.
Only one minute after it was sent, the post was being
widely "forwarded" by fans of "Safe Beijing" on t.sina.com.cn, China's
most popular microblog website, which was launched one year ago by web
portal giant Sina.
"Safe Beijing" was opened by the Beijing Municipal
Public Security Bureau three months ago. The move was considered part of
their public relations campaigns to enhance transparency and
interaction with residents, as microblogging has become a popular way
for Chinese to receive the latest news and information.
"It's good for the police authorities to look at such
details that are critical to people's lives. I hope this microblog can
play a greater role in the future," said fan "Meng Kunyu", commenting on
A survey conducted by the China Youth Daily newspaper
showed that 73.5 percent of the 3,282 respondents from 30 Chinese
provinces, regions and municipalities log onto microblogs to learn the
latest information, while 66.6 percent use them to participate in online
"Safe Beijing" has attracted more than 162,000 fans
and undoubtedly its influence will be further expanded as the number of
its users surged by an additional 20,000 during this past week.
"I once worried that microblogging would become a
mere formality for e-governance, but it seems to work well," Professor
Wang Yukai with the Chinese Academy of Governance told a Xinhua reporter
Wednesday on the sidelines of the ongoing 5th China E-government Forum
The Beijing police have embraced microblogs' unique
advantages of being more convenient and interactive, and managed to
narrow their gap as the police have become more accessible to ordinary
people, Wang said. "They set a good example for other governmental
Every day, "Safe Beijing" sends posts offering
anti-fraud, anti-theft and personal safety tips, as well as the latest
police affairs news.
"I can hardly associate the microblogger who appears
kind and warmhearted with the stubborn image of police authorities,"
said a Beijing citizen, Benny Li, also a fan of "Safe Beijing".
Li said the microblogger, an attractive policewoman
in her 20s, posted her picture on the site earlier this month. "I felt
closer to her after seeing her picture."
Nevertheless, what impressed Li the most was the
police authorities' increasingly open attitude towards popular social
topics, for example, the attack on Fang Zhouzi, a prominent Chinese
anti-fraud science writer, in late August in Beijing.
Four hours after the incident occurred, "Safe
Beijing" posted a short message pledging to "release the follow-up
information on time" and "protect people's legitimate rights".
"The police used to be very reluctant to release
information about criminal cases, especially those that involved
celebrities. I didn't expect to get their responses so quickly this
time," Li said.
So far, more than 200 Chinese public security
institutions at township, municipal and provincial levels, as well as
dozens of other governmental agencies have launched microblogging
services on t.sina.com.cn.
Additionally, online communities were playing an
increasingly important role in helping the government solicit public
opinions and improve their relationships with citizens, said Sun Yu, a
scholar from Beijing Normal University.
This idea has even caught on in Washington D.C. when,
on May 1st last year, the White House logged onto Twitter and issued a
post saying, "Today the White House is taking steps to expand how the
Administration is communicating with the public."