December 19, 2011

In the interval between when BBC aired reports of Kim Jong Il's death and when CCTV and other Chinese state media got around to making their own reports on Monday, the Chinese Internet was already abuzz with news and commentary on the North Korean leader's passing, from famous and unknown Weibo users alike.

December 19, 2011

Reports of the arrival of a "China Spring" are premature, but the comparison is closer than anyone would have predicted before last week. Long after authorities from Beijing re-establish control, Wukan's achievement will affect China's internal security policy, succession dynamics in the run-up to the 2012 leadership handover, and even China's foreign policy.

Chinese Internet users were split on how to interpret the sudden appearance of IMF managing director Christine Lagarde on Sina Weibo, the country’s dominant Twitter-esque microblogging service. Others...choosing instead to welcome Ms. Lagarde with warnings not to use the service to solicit China’s help in solving the financial mess in Europe.

Chinese authorities have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to rein in the hugely popular microblogging sites that have become an alternative source of real-time news for millions while challenging the Communist Party’s traditional grip on information.

The up-to-the-minute news and messages these embassies post show that the micro blog has become the medium of choice for foreign diplomatic agencies to conduct public diplomacy.

The Indian Embassy in Beijing has taken to China’s widely popular version of Twitter in a new public diplomacy campaign aimed at directly reaching out to young, middle-class Chinese, in an attempt to present an often overlooked “modern” image of India here in China.

In the slow-evolving world of diplomacy, it may be the biggest innovation since the wax seal: social media that lets Canadian diplomats go around the censors to speak directly to, and hear from, the citizens of the world’s rising superpower.