News / Asia

Despite Chinese Ban, Xinhua Joins Twitter

A screenshot of Xinhua's Twitter account in English.
A screenshot of Xinhua's Twitter account in English.
Do as we say, not as we do. That could be the latest headline from China’s Xinhua News Agency, the state-run media giant that’s sharing its stories via Twitter, a social media site officially blocked in China.

The @XHNews account has been tweeting since March 1, but it went unnoticed in China until this week, when the Yunnan Information Daily newspaper broke the story, angering Chinese netizens like this one:


China’s so-called “Great Firewall” prevents most Internet users from accessing Twitter, but many savvy netizens get around the wall using workarounds like virtual private networks, or VPNs. In fact, both censorship advocates, like the Global Times’ editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, and critics, like artist Ai Weiwei, are using the service.

Xinhua’s account has collected more than 7,000 followers by tweeting concise statements and articles about the Chinese economy, politics and society.


Most of the sources are state-run, but the account also has retweeted The Associated Press, The New York Times and other western media, such as this choice story from The Washington Post:


Madeline Earp, a senior Asia researcher with the Committee to Protect Journalists, says Xinhua’s experiment with Twitter is an extension of China’s reported $7 billion effort to boost its media presence around the world, including CCTV outlets in the United States and Africa.  And that, she says, could help the Chinese media masters better understand how news outlets in other countries are operating.

“I’d say the global media expansion could be a good thing if it results in a loosening of restrictions on the domestic press in line with international norms,” she says.

Until restrictions are eased, however, Earp says “it’s definitely a concern that the Chinese model of information control is expanding its reach.”

China has a kind of “block and clone” approach to the Internet, as described in a TED Talk by the prominent Chinese blogger Michael Anti, known as Jing Zhao. Like Twitter, the government blocks Facebook and other social networks, but offers Chinese netizens domestic versions, including Sina Weibo and renren.

The blogger has described Weibo as “the media,” saying if something’s not on Weibo, it’s not known to the public. But Earp says despite Weibo's hundreds of millions of users, Chinese netizens often still turn to Twitter because it’s a connection to the world. 

“Rather than asking whether [Twitter is] needed or not, it’s enough to point out that there is clearly demand,” she says. “If Xinhua can use it to promote content, other businesses and individuals should be encouraged to do the same, and China as a whole would benefit.”

This week, another social media experiment seemed to be taking place. Users of China's version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, were allowed to search for words normally blocked by the Great Firewall, according to The Telegraph’s Malcolm Moore. And not only could they search for President Hu Jintao and his successor Xi Jinping, they could criticize them too.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
December 14, 2012 10:39 AM
So the CCP bans Twitter in China but their Xinhua propaganda agency can post on Twitter? Talk about hypocritical! Perhaps Twitter should ban Xinhua until China allows its citizens to use Twitter.


by: Anonymous
December 13, 2012 11:15 AM
Just forget this arctile ,how about Wikkippedia's CEO in Usa?


by: ChasL from: Seattle
December 12, 2012 8:24 PM
Oh please give this propaganda a rest. I feel as if my tax dollar is soooo wasted!

Twitter is not illegal in China. The fact VPNs are legal in China (as many US ISP have been operating in China legally) shows the firewall that mostly filters out porn and stuff US Congress pays for like Falun Gong and VOA propaganda, is optional.

In Response

by: William Goodwin from: Canada
December 17, 2012 8:13 AM
VPN's are illegal It is a cat and mouse game between TGF and VPN providers Have you ever lived in China? I suspect not or a voice of the CPP freedom of information in China is always at risk

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid