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President Hu signs up for microblogging
Published on: 2010-02-24
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BEIJING — China's President Hu Jintao has set up a microblogging account that has drawn thousands of followers as of Monday, in a country where social networking sites remain tightly controlled.

The account was set up on a microblogging platform operated by the People's Daily, the main print media mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, which Hu heads.

Hu's profile contained no message, photo or information other than his name and official titles.

The state-controlled Global Times newspaper said the People's Daily had set up its microblogging site on February 1.

It said it had confirmed with the site that Hu's account was genuine.

It was not clear when the account was set up, but more than 14,000 web users had signed on to follow the account by Monday morning, allowing them to receive updates by email, Windows Messenger, or Google's Talk service.

"I am looking forward to communicating with the Secretary General (of the Party)," said one user.

Another expressed disappointment, saying, "It's a pity he hasn't written anything yet."

Hu's microblogging presence has emerged in the middle of a row between China and the United States over Beijing's restrictions on the Internet and Google's presence in China.

Google threatened last month to abandon its Chinese-language search engine google.cn, and perhaps end all operations in the country, over censorship and cyberattacks it says targeted the email accounts of Chinese rights activists.

The New York Times reported last week that the hack attacks had been traced to two elite Chinese schools, but both have denied any involvement.

China's government has recently walked a tightrope on the Internet, with leaders saying they were committed to developing the Chinese web even as Beijing operates a huge censorship system dubbed the "Great Firewall of China."

Authorities attempt to strictly control exploding use of the Internet in the country -- restrictions that include stifling foreign social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube.

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