Defense ministry opens accounts on Chinese social media

By Yuen Yeuk-laam and Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-25 23:23:02

China's Ministry of National Defense opened official accounts on Sina Weibo and WeChat Monday to enhance communication with the public and was quickly welcomed by netizens.

Both accounts are set to be officially launched on Tuesday, and will offer live updates on the release of a white paper on China's military strategy.

Written in an intimate and relaxed tone, the Weibo account was quickly welcomed by thousands of netizens. It received more than 28,000 followers and over 1,400 comments as of press time.

The ministry's WeChat account said it will release information about the ministry's policies, military construction and military exchange and cooperation, while netizens said that they hope to see more information on China's response to disputes.

"It is part of efforts to make government affairs more open and will also help reduce doubts over China's national defense development raised by the international community," Song Jianwu, dean of the School of Journalism and Media at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.

Zhang Zhi'an, a professor at the School of Communication and Design of Sun Yat-sen University, said that turning a "mysterious" department to a more transparent one will encourage more people to pay attention to the country's national defense strategy.

However, both scholars said smoothly interacting with netizens without unnecessarily providing military secrets would be the biggest challenge.

The defense ministry has been striving to strengthen communication between the authorities and the public.

In April 2011, the ministry started holding a regular press briefing on the last Wednesday of every month.

In July 2014, the briefing was opened to foreign journalists, allowing the international community to learn about China and its military more objectively.

The Chinese military has been making use of social media platforms to reach out to the public. The People's Liberation Army Daily and the Chinese navy, for example, set up Weibo accounts in 2011 and 2012, respectively, with the former having as many as 8 million followers.

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