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China Launches Pro-Communist Twitter

Web surfers in China can finally use their very own version of Twitter -- as long as they use it to sing the praises of Mao.

The new service, called 'Red Microblog,' is essentially a Twitter-like platform, devoted to Communist propaganda. According to the Telegraph, the site officially rolled out yesterday, and is run by a local propaganda department in the city of Chongqing. The typical news feed is filled with inspirational, party-line messages like: "I really like the words by Chairman Mao [Zedong] that 'The world is ours; we should work together.'" Others tend to be more poetic: "Those who go with the flow are forever going up and down in the waves; only those who go against the wind fearing no hardship, can reach the other side fast."

The site was created under a new order from the central government's Propaganda Chief, calling upon all local governments to take greater control over the media. Chongqing's local secretary, Bo Xilai, recently launched a major campaign to turn his city "red," and is an avid user of the new platform. He regularly urges his constituents to sing Communist Party songs, read classical Chinese literature, and share stories of Mao's Long March.

A government-controlled Twitter may not do much for the advancement of online freedom, but, fortunately, it's not the only microblogging game in town. Although the official version of Twitter is still outlawed in the country, many Twitter clones have popped up throughout the nation. According to EnfoDesk, there will be over 75 million microbloggers in China by the end of the year -- a staggering 837-percent increase from last year.

Steven Dong, of the Global Journalism at Tsinghua University, says this recent spate of Twitter-like sites reflects larger cultural and economic trends that have gradually changed China in recent years. "The era of the microblog has hit China," Dong told the Telegraph. "This would not have been possible two years ago, but the Olympics, the Shanghai Expo and the Guangzhou Asian Games have affected China's politics, economy and culture." The times may very well be a-changin' in China, but on 'Red Microblog,' at least, the country still seems very much mired in the past.

Tags: china, communism, freedom, MaoZedong, media, microblogging, politics, red, RedMicroblog, SocialNetworking, top, twitter