14 December 2012
There's been uproar on China's tightly-controlled internet after local media reported that the state news agency Xinhua has an account on Twitter. Along with Facebook and YouTube, the popular western social networking website is banned in China.
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Xinhua has had an English-language account on Twitter for months, and it's not clear why China's regional press chose to mention its existence now. But it's provoked both anger and amusement among Chinese web users, whose every mouse-click is monitored by what's known as the Great Firewall.
One comment left on the website of the news magazine Caijing, said Xinhua's officials should be arrested for jumping the wall. Another ventured plaintively, "please allow us to visit Twitter too".
Xinhua's cyber-journey to the West may be news to many of China's netizens, but it hasn't gone there alone. Also posting on Twitter in English are the official China Daily and Global Times, in what seems to be an attempt to promote China's soft power.
Joining them on the other side of the Great Firewall are some of the best-known Chinese dissidents, including the artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who used special software to circumvent the controls. This doesn't mean there's contact between them. More than six thousand people worldwide follow Xinhua's frequent posts on Twitter - but the news agency itself doesn't follow anyone at all.
Click here to hear the vocabulary
brought about, caused
- jumping the wall
ignoring the internet restrictions
increase of web-traffic
'net citizens'; people who use the internet
people who disagree with a political party or government
supporters of a political cause
avoid, get past