The Chinese Embassy in the UK has launched its own social media platforms for the first time – a Facebook page and an official WeChat account.
The aim of the new accounts is to improve China-UK relations, engage with young people to lay the groundwork to create future bilateral ties, as well as to enhance the consular, visa and other services offered to Chinese nationals and people travelling to China who are in the UK.
Speaking at the launch, China’s Ambassador to the UK H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, explained the thinking behind the foray into the new platforms. “The power and influence of new media has increased in this age of the Internet. It cannot be understated. Social media subscribers are now growing at an exponential rate and we are seeing unprecedented activity in the new form,” he told the packed room of media, consultants, academics and business leaders in the UK that are working with China.
597 million Chinese people subscribe to social media channels in China, which is 98 per cent of the total number of Internet users in China. “That is much higher than the number in Western industrialised countries,” H.E. Mr Liu said.
He said part of China’s diplomacy was keeping abreast of social media and the Chinese Government felt social media was now a new platform for China’s public diplomacy. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassies across the world were all opening up social media accounts, he said. “The opening of a Facebook page and WeChat account completes the website platform of the Chinese Embassy in London and increases our outreach to the public with the latest authoritative information, facts and figures, news, events and coverage of UK-China relations,” he added.
“We hope you will like us and follow us on Facebook and WeChat and forward our posts,” he said.
The QR code of the Chinese Embassy in the UK’s new Official WeChat account
China has 527 million smartphone users accounting for 83.4 per cent of Chinese netizens. Internet penetration in China is just under 50 per cent.
WeChat is the country’s leading messaging application. It grew at 379 per cent last year. There are currently 6,000 Chinese Government WeChat accounts.
Twitter and Facebook have both been blocked in China since 2009. However people living in a 17 mile square area of Shanghai have had access to them since 2013. Weibo, a microblogging site similar Twitter, now has 198 million monthly active users in China. India’s prime minister Narendra Modi joined Weibo this year to connect with a Chinese audience and attracted more than 20,000 followers in five hours. Many other global figures and companies are also opening Weibo accounts for the same reason.
In October this year the Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Britain for a state visit, hosted by Buckingham Palace, 10 years after the last such visit by a Chinese president. “This will be the most important agenda of the year – China and UK relations – and this visit will mark a new milestone in that relationship. 2015 is also the China-UK cultural exchange year,” H.E. Mr Liu said.
He added 150,000 Chinese students come to the UK every year and 80,000 students and interns would travel to China from the UK by 2020.
He said the new social media platforms would help the bonds between the two countries grow further and extend their circle of friends. “It’s also a tangible measure to improve our consular services and cater to the needs of Chinese nationals in the UK and bring the consular services of the Chinese Embassy in London to every living room of every Chinese national and enable us to satisfy the diverse needs of Chinese nationals overseas,” he said.
He added that young people were the future and so engaging with them through this platform would lay the groundwork for better UK-China relations in the future and build stronger bilateral ties.
H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming toasted the launch of the UK Chinese Embassy’s Facebook and WeChat accounts with a glass of champagne
He then made the first post on the UK Chinese Embassy’s Facebook page.
To see the Chinese Embassy in the UK’s Facebook page click here.
To see the Chinese Embassy in the UK’s QR code for its Official WeChat account click here.
To see the Asia House Weibo account click here and click here for the QR code for the Asia House WeChat account.
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