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Official Opens Microblog to Promote Transparency

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A high-ranking official in east China's Zhejiang Province has launched a personal micro-blog in a bid to enhance public supervision over government through improved communications with the Internet surfers.

Cai Qi, Minister of Zhejiang Organization Department, is believed to be the highest ranking official in China to set up a real-name account on the micro-blogging services that have become wildly popular in China.

Since Cai announced the opening of his micro-blog during a government meeting on Tuesday, his micro-blog had attracted more than 1,100 fans overnight on as of Wednesday.

Cai has also suggested other officials in the organization department to open personal micro-blogs in order to improve the government's transparency.

"Transparency is paramount in government work," Cai said, "There should be nothing for us officials to hide from the public."

"Senior officials opening micro-blogs could trigger outrage among the suspicious ones who consider this action as government hypocrisy. Therefore, many officials dare not to open micro-blogs using their real names." Cai said.

Meanwhile, Cai's micro-blog has drawn some plaudits on the Internet.

"I wish that more and more officials would be willing to listen to the people," said one Internet surfer in his message posted on Cai's micro-blog.

China has 450 million online users, according to official data.

Micro-blogging leader said in November that its service had 50 million registered users after just 14 months of operation -- up from 10 million in April.

Further, users have seized on micro-blogging as a new avenue for mass expression.

Chinese authorities have taken note and officials have repeatedly advocated wider government use of micro-blogs.

Additionally, government organizations such as Beijing police forces, Beijing airports as well as individual officials have been using micro-blogs.

Hu Shuigen, professor from Zhejiang University, said, the current online communications between officials and the public still does not have a significant influence on government management and decision making.

"More importantly, the public should be given more chances to freely voice their opinions and demands." Hu said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2011)

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