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Gov't Bloggers' Followers Just a Clique Away  

2007-09-16 09:32:29|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Gov'tBloggers' Followers Just a Clique Away
 
   Blogging, aform of citizen journalism, has caught on so much in China thateven some government officials are getting into it.

The highest-ranking official orformer official to write a blog is Zhao Qizheng, former director ofthe State Council Information Office, now president of theJournalism School of Renmin University in Beijing.

He launched the blog "Zhao Qizhengand his books"  on August 3 and uploaded severalchapters of his latest work In the One World - 101 Tips on How toCommunicate with Foreigners. One of them, about the importance ofsmiling, has been read by nearly 40,000 netizens since it wasposted a week ago.

In a letter of August 14, Zhaothanked netizens for reading and commenting on his blog andapologized that he could not respond to each comment or questionbecause he could only surf the Internet for limited time every day,and that he was a slow typist.

Some netizens have used his blogto speak directly with the former top news official.

One of them, called "Peach", ajournalism student complained of a perceived lack of jobs in theindustry and asked for his advice.

The direct interaction betweenbloggers is one of the most appealing elements about this form ofcommunication.

Arguably the most popular blog runby an official is that of Liao Xinbo, deputy director of theprovincial health bureau of South China's GuangdongProvince.

Liao calls himself "Doctor BrotherBozi" and his blog (http://blog.sina.com.cn/liaoxinbo) has beenread more than 650,000 times since it was launched last April. Atpresent it ranks the sixth most popular blog inGuangdong.

The health official is known forbeing outspoken. On Monday, he posted an article by an anonymousdoctor which blamed China's apparent failure on medical reform overthe last 30 years on the lack of fair pay for doctors.

"If the situation continues, thenext medical reform is doomed to fail again," the postwarned.

Liao also argued in his blog thathealth services were not a commodity that should be "bought" bypatients, a key point that health providers need to serve thepublic, instead of trying to rake in money.

Netizens who agreed with Liaoproposed the official lobby his allies at the provincial people'scongress - the legislative body - to draft a law especially formedical contracts.

Netizens even went as far asdrafting their own medical contract law, which Liao posted onAugust 24 commenting: "I have never studied laws and cannot giveany comments. I wish my friends who are interested to give theirideas".

Dozens of lawyersresponded.

According to one of them, legaltangles in the medical sector were difficult to settle becausethere were already too many laws, but not one powerful or specificenough to tackle problems with malpractice disputes.

The netizen proposed that it waswith some urgency that a law was drafted that covered the entiresector, instead of one that specifically dealt withcontracts.

Whether or not the fact thenetizens' law proposals were right or wrong, their interaction withthis sort of blogging demonstrates how ordinary people can debatethe merits of such proposals.

Liao's blog, with its inspiringdiscussions, provides a prime example of a form of "directdemocracy".

There are no figures available asto how many officials have blogs in China.

However, in Suqian, a mid-sizedcity in east China's Jiangsu Province, 81 middle and high-rankingofficials in the municipal government have opened blogs on thegovernment website .

Their Communist Party secretary,Zhang Xinshi, took the lead.

"Zhang hopes that those who are incharge at the different government organs can also have blogs sothat they can express their ideas, attract people's discussions andbuild an efficient channel of communication between officials andordinary citizens," said a Suqian Daily report about a workingconference this April.

Zhang has updated his blog almostevery day and written long articles on weekends about a wide rangeof topics from global climate change to professionaleducation.

An article on "civilized behavior"prompted the local Suqian Daily to open a column about the topic,and more than 100,000 pupils and high school students distributedpamphlets on civilized behavior in the streets of hiscity.

Almost each of Zhang's onlinearticles was read more than 400 times, but there have been fewposted responses from the public.

When a comment was made, it oftenturned out to be a pledge of a subordinate to implement the Partysecretary's ideas, not public feedback.

A report in the People's Dailylast month said officials in Suqian had published more than 1,700articles on their blogs and these articles were read by more than760,000 netizens.

"It is a good thing that officialsopened blogs and strengthen their communication with the ordinarycitizens," Xie Chuntao, professor at the Party School of theCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China in Beijing,said.

As part of China's e-governanceconstruction, 12,000 government websites have been built in thepast decade, according a report by Xinhua News Agency lastDecember.

More than 96 percent of thecentral government organs, 90 percent of provincial governments, 96percent of municipal governments and 77 percent of countygovernments have their own websites.

"By further exploring thecommunication possibilities of blogs, officials may better win thecitizens' trust if there is successful communication between thetwo sides," said Mao Shoulong, political science professor atRenmin University of China in a commentary in the People's Dailylast year.

But he also feared that someofficials may have their opinion influenced by the "small club incyberspace".

"Actually, if we want thegovernment to get nearer to the ordinary citizens, we can make moreefforts on improving our democratic system instead of using thehighly personalized blogs," he said.

"At the current stage, we canimprove the government websites that widely exist, and make themwork better in publicizing policies and communicating withnetizens. This is a more constructive choice."

(Xinhua News Agency August 30,2007)

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