Nanjing government demands emergent events across the city be reported to the public on micro blogs within an hour. [Provided to China Daily]
“Emergent and disastrous events mean things closely related with people’s daily life,” said Pan Tao, director of the Internet sector of the publicity department with the Nanjing committee of the Communist Party of China, who introduced the regulation.
But Pan said the regulation is a confidential document between government departments and has no legal validity.
“The regulation is more a guidance than a compulsory rule for the government departments to better use weibo to communicate with the people,” said Pan.
The government of Nanjing has been an active weibo user. Its official account, Nanjing Release has posted 1,430 messages and accumulated more than 130,000 followers, the second most popular micro blog managed by a government publicity department in China, after Chengdu, Sichuan province.
Pan said that the regulation also calls for more “netizen-friendly language” and more interaction with netizens.
Zhu Chunyang, professor from the Journalism School of Fudan University, called the introduction of the regulation a “pace-keeping act”.
“Traditionally, we had this 12-hour period for crisis management. But with the popularity of the Internet, the period has quickly ‘devalued’ to four hours, and now, one hour,” said Zhu.
“It’s a highly commendable approach, and it’s one other city governments can learn from, as the quicker the party concerned responds to an event, the fewer rumors and misunderstandings there will be,” explained Zhu, who is also an active weibo user with nearly 20,000 followers.
But Zhu also warned that the way the government departments handle problems and the reputation of the “crisis manager” also play an important role in crisis management.
“If there is no mutual trust between the government and the people, however articulately or fast it responds, the response will just be sophistry,” said Zhu.