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China’s NPC delegates start blogging for the masses

Mar 07, 20062 mins
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A handful of delegates to China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) are using blogs for the first time to share their thoughts on the rubber-stamp body’s annual session, tapping into a medium that has recently soared in popularity among Chinese Internet users.

Ten delegates to the NPC and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body that is also holding its annual session, have set up blogs on the Web site of the official People’s Daily newspaper.

“This is the first time for delegates to use blogs during these two meetings,” said Guan Jianwen, the executive at People’s Daily who oversees the NPC and CPPCC blogs. “We decided to do this after seeing how popular blogs have become in China during the last two years.”

China has the world’s second-largest Internet community, behind the U.S., with more than 110 million users. According to financial analysts at Piper Jaffray & Co., one-third of Chinese Internet users read at least one of the country’s estimated four million blogs every day.

In addition to sharing the delegates’ thoughts on issues being discussed at the meetings, the NPC and CPPCC delegates’ blogs offer an opportunity for readers to post their own comments in response. The blogs have been popular with Internet users, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each day, Guan said.

“After the two meetings are over, we hope these delegates and representatives will continue to write their blogs,” Guan said, adding that delegates have welcomed the use of blogs as a way to improve communication with the people.

People’s Daily is not the only news organization that’s tapping into Internet to involve reader in their coverage of the NPC meeting. The Xinhua News Agency, China’s official news service, asked its Internet readers to submit questions for Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who will hold a press conference with Chinese and foreign media later today.

At the time of writing, the Xinhua News Agency offer had elicited more than 250 responses on a range of topics, including Taiwan, China’s relations with the U.S. and Japan, and Iran’s development of nuclear technology.

While popular, blogs are not without limits in China. The Chinese government has blocked access to blogs that it deems undesirable or politically sensitive.