Censorship in China

Xinhua's Twitter account creates uproar on Weibo

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 11:31am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 5:20pm

The cat’s out of the bag. Chinese netizens are now aware that the Xinhua state news agency has been posting on Twitter since March despite China’s “Great Fire Wall” and its attempts to block the popular Western micro-blogging service.

The presence of the official press agency of the Communist Party on Twitter has sparked discussions among Chinese web users, many of whom discovered its existence only after a report by the Yunnan Info Daily surfaced on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, Xinhua’s official account has more than 5,500 followers with 3,000 tweets.

But the number of people it’s following? Zero.

The most frequently asked question by China’s netizens is: why is Xinhua allowed to use Twitter, but not us?

“I am going to report this to the police: Xinhua is obviously breaching our internet laws,” said a netizen on Sina Weibo, China’s micro-blogging service.

“Xinhua has proved itself a traitor who has chosen an evil path,” said another Weibo user in an ironic tone, referring to a speech given by President Hu Jintao.

Hu had said in his speech at the 18th party congress that “we reject both the old and rigid closed-door path and the evil path of shifting banners”. The phrase “evil path” has since become a hot word among China’s internet users.

Other people question why Xinhua has kept a low profile about its Twitter presence.

“Why does Xinhua have to act like it’s a big secret?” said a Weibo user.

Xinhua’s account was set up on February 9. It published its first tweet on March 1, said the Yunnan Info Daily.

In its profile, Xinhua introduces itself in the following words: “A multimedia group, Xinhua delivers the most authoritative China news as well as fast and objective global news.”

Another curious fact many people have noticed is Xinhua is following zero people on Twitter.

“Why are you not following anyone?” said Zhiying Zhang, a Twitter user. Xinhua hasn’t made any replies.

Internet users in mainland China usually access Twitter and other blocked websites via a VPN.

Xinhua initially followed more than 400 people on Twitter, but has gradually “unfollowed” all of them since October, said the Yunnan Info Daily. The reason remains unclear.

Among its 3,000 posts, Xinhua has retweeted 10 posts, from Rupert Murdoch, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Associated Press, The New York Times, UNAIDS, and Slate magazine, said the report.