China has the world’s largest number of microbloggers, said a latest report on the country’s new media development.
The report, published by the Social Sciences Academic Press annually, quoted the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC), which said that about 274 million Chinese people had microblog accounts as of June this year.
The number of microbloggers increased sharply from about 63 million in 2010, said the report issued by a team of social sciences experts headed by Yin Yungong, director of the Institute of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Microblogging has become an important channel for Chinese people to express themselves, particularly about public issues, it said.
It has also become an easy and low-cost communication channel between the government and citizens, the report said.
At Sina Weibo, a leading microblogging service, 18,132 accounts have been registered by the Party and government departments and officials as of last October.
Social networks like microblogging have begun to set the agenda of public opinions and affected public emotions in some incidents, like the high-speed train crash near Wenzhou, in east China’s Zhejiang Province, in July last year, the report said.
Governments have realized the influence of social networks and put more effort in working with them, it said.
Research by the report’s authors from July to December last year showed that the authorities responded to about 71.9 percent of issues that were widely discussed by microbloggers and 50.4 percent were within 24 hours.
Besides microblogging, instant message is also popular with Chinese people and has overtaken search engine, music and news to be the most popular online application, the report said. It added that about 415 million Chinese use instant message applications.
The report warned that legislation relating to new media has lagged behind their development. There is still no law specializing on the Internet and many related articles in existing laws need revision, it added.
The report also suggested that China work out a national strategy on the development of new media and find a way of managing it.
The number of Internet users in China rose 10.9 percent year on year to 538 million by the end of June, meaning that four out of ten Chinese access the Internet, according to figures from the CINIC.
It is estimated that by 2015 China will have more than 800 million Internet users, one quarter of which will come from the countryside, the report said.