Yiyi Lu writes on local governments’ online participation in China for the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report:
Stories of the proactive use of the Internet by government agencies and officials abound. They range from the comic to the deeply controversial.
The website of Xinzhou city government in Shanxi province attracted quite a lot of attention with its “beauty forum.” Xinzhou claims to be the birthplace of several famous beauties in Chinese history. The government has therefore opened a beauty forum on its website to encourage discussion on how to use beauties to stimulate the local economy.
A police station in Xiamen has tried to draw more visitors to its microblog by making a connection between its duty of safeguarding the security of the local community and the World Cup. The station blogged: “On the football pitch, the most beautiful flowers are always these three: attack, attack, and attack. It is the same with maintaining community security. Proactive measures are always more meaningful than reactive measures.”
Officials in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, appear to be very adept at managing online criticism of their performance. A local resident used Internet forums to attack the environmental protection bureau for failing to deal with a water pollution case and demanded that the director of the bureau take responsibility and resign. The bureau not only took action to stop the pollution, but also launched a “human flesh search” to track down the critic, in order to offer him a “cyber-supervision” award of 2,000 yuan. While the netizen felt embarrassed at some of his caustic remarks and said sorry when receiving his award, the director of the bureau told him there was no need to apologize. Instead, the bureau should thank him for helping to solve a pollution problem.