Network in China: When the Chinese police encounter the culture of microblogging

2010-09-07 - michelle

Editor note: This article about the use of microblogs by Chinese police is originally published in Xinhuanet

Recent years, the People of the Republic of China police has created MicroBlog and has caused great concern in the Internet.

Is it a “show” or “internet politics”? How do law enforcers adapt the liberal and free internet atmosphere? How does MicroBlog reflect the governance mentality? Reporters visited the police MicroBlog to take a look.

Can’t speak well can’t work

In February of this year, Guangdong Province set up some MicroBlog accounts. “Pingan (means ‘Safe’) Zhaoqing” is one of them. At the beginning, the followers increased rapidly. But after half month, the number of fans reduced. MicroBlog Police team did not know why.

“We are confused currently. How can we serve you (public) better? What kind of public security information do you like?” This message from Pingan Zhaoqing immediately caught the users’ attention. More than 60 messages were received.

“You like a robot. Your answer is similar to the voice messages. For X, please press 1. For XX, please press 2” Netizen ‘Shuizhong de yu’ left a sharp criticism.

“Can’t speak can’t work.” Police found that netizen criticized their bureaucratic tone. They welcome natural internet and neighborhood style. Now, the “Pingan Zhaoqing” has reached 6.3 million followers.

“This is the result of learning how to speak” said Chen Yongbo, chief of public relations of Zhaoqing Municipal Public Security Bureau. Learning how to speak is the first request of Guangdong Provincial Public Security MicroBlog. In May of this year, within Guangdong Province, 21 prefecture-level cities and provincial Public Security Bureau have launched their official MicroBlogs.

Other places police also have explored the set up of official MicroBlogs. In Beijing, the capital MicroBlog version is set up. August 1st, the Beijing police official MicroBlogs, blogs, podcasts “Pingan Beijing” are created. 2.1 million people visited within 20 days. MicroBlog fans nearly reached 5 million.

During the testing period of “Pingan Beijing”, it can actually experience the netizen ‘pai zhuan’ (means ‘scolding’) power. For example, “how can the MicroBlog messages are so bureaucratic, nothing really meaningful, too much meaningless wordings”, “read some messages. Use too many word. I suggest express ideas in one sentence”.

After these criticisms, the official tone gradually disappeared from the MicroBlog. “But, it is still the official blog. However, web terms such as ‘xi fan’(means ‘congee’) symbolizes ‘xi huang’ (means ‘like’) , we will try to use less”. Beijing MicroBlog on duty police Lu Pinzhang said.

Netizen “Qiufeng yuanshang” said, “At first, I was curious when Beijing Police set up MicroBlog. Then, I searched out that from the provinces to the city, have their own representatives MicroBlogs”.

Reporter found that, MicroBlog on duty police will upload their own photos. They chat with fans by using net style language. Some responsible for press issuing, some try to circulate related knowledge, some adjust the blog atmosphere, some good in communicate with the netizens etc. When the police official MicroBlog is no longer “bureaucratic”, it wins more and more fans.

Don’t listen criticism don’t work

When Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau MicroBlog just launched, because of various concerns, it limited the MicroBlog's comments function. Netizens criticized a lot.

Netizens said, “Since you don’t want to listen to people nor communicate with us, why do you set up MicroBlog?”

Mistake should be corrected. “Guangzhou gongan” MicroBlog on duty Chen Lixiong said after collecting the criticism, we re-opened the comments function at the same day. Police MicroBlog must accept “scolding” This represents we want to accept the public supervision”.

Liu Bo works for Guangdong Provincial Public Security Bureau MicroBlog “Pingan Nanyue”. He told, “After setting up the MicroBlog, basically there is no trouble netizen. Extreme and irrational narration is minority. After communication, some netizens also became our fans.”

Director of Public Policy and Public Security, Zhongguo renmin daixue (University) Xie Ming said, “Good police public relation is a efficient lubricants for the police-public relations”. Some things are easier to tackle through interaction and mutual understanding. Setting up MicroBlog is a good way. “There are many ways to solve conflicts and communicate is the most important.”

In order to ensure smooth operation of “Pingan Beijing” MicroBlog, the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau Public Relations Office transfers nine policemen for the duty. They are divided into 3 groups and maintain 24-hour service. For a rough statistics, each officer replies about 60 messages on average. Liu Dawei, director of the office, said, “When facing the criticism from the netizens, the first thing is not deleting the posts. But revise and adjust the content according to the netizen views.”

Duty officers will carefully record the netizens comments. “hope it is not a show”, “it should be more practical when work for public”. These sharp criticisms are entirely reported to the Council leadership. Lui Pinzhang said, “In daily report, criticisms account more. Council leaders will not only read all of them, they will elect some representative comments and inform all unit leader in the daily morning meeting.”

“With the honest feelings and attitudes, as well as the help of modern communication tools and technologies, all these allow genuine, promptly and open communication and exchange with the media, ordinary people”. “This is the position of the police MicroBlog” said by Fu Zheng, the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau Administrative Secretary.

Speak without action, can’t work

Netizen “Xiamen lang” said he could not forget the meeting with and the Guangdong Public Security MicroBlog team. Once, he and a few net friends were invited to Guangdong Provincial Public Security Bureau to attend the forums. More than 20 police officers dressed uniforms and surrounded them. That surprised him. Then, he learned that they were the Guangdong Public Security MicroBlog team representatives.

“Dare to let us visit the detention center?” He rose out the request rather abruptly. “Yes” Quickly, he and other net friends visited Zhongshan and other places detention centers. Thus, he is very admired the hard-working of the blogger team.

Less word, efficient, MicroBlog allows micro-distance between netizens and police. “When people followed the customs and prayed at Dinghushan at night, the “Pingan Zhaoqing” uploaded cell phone photos and shared with friends in time. The live graphic showed the traffic condition. Netizens can see the arrested suspect on site, or know how the police rescue the elderly in the deep mountains at midnight.

Police MicroBlog advocate and the Zhongguo Renmin Gongan Daixue (university) Professor Li Meijin said, “The police MicroBlog shows they attempts to change from focusing on management to providing services. “People not only listen to how you say, but also depend on how you do.”

Being practical is the important reason that the Beijing police MicroBlog wins the fans. At August 13, netizens reflected some young beggars were found at the junctions of Chaoyang District. They suspected that was organized by adults gangsters. The information was quickly reported to relevant departments of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. Next day afternoon, those who bought children to begging location and young beggars were sent to the proper placement assistance station.

With the efficiency of the “Pingan Beijing”, the netizen Laser said “Good! MicroBlog begins to solve the problems reflected by netizens”

August 18 afternoon, a “110” file was sent to Beijing police MicroBlog team about the recurring bank card and SMS fraud report. Lu Pinzhang, who was on duty, wrote this on MicroBlog within 15 minutes to alarm the public.

When the reporters was interviewing with Lu, he sent two reports from netizen to the Changping and Beijing Authority. One was about the nuisance of large trucks in midnight at Changping District. The other was comment of too much traffic lights Fengtai District. He must indicate the response time when issue any single report.

Lu told reporters, “if the netizens recommendations are related with public security, they will be reported to the relevant units”. And information will be updated in MicroBlog. They are striving to response all messages.

Police MicroBlog provides the channel to serve ordinary people. Beijing University School of Journalism and Communication Associate Professor Hu Yong said, “The purpose is not setting up MicroBlog nor improve the image of public relations. But to “face the comment and response to the problem. So that we can achieve service-oriented and ruling for people.

Network in China: PRC police MicroBlog shock

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