The People's Liberation Army navy has started a micro blog, becoming the first branch of the Chinese military to do so.
Senior Captain Shen Liqing, director of the publicity department at the navy's Beijing headquarters, said the micro blog on people.com.cn, the flagship website of People's Daily, aims to improve the navy's communication and publicity capabilities, improve transparency, provide a platform for exchanges between the service and the public and respond to hot issues concerning the PLA navy.
The blog will publicize important navy events and provide information, publish recruitment notices, and outline the history, achievements and etiquette of the service, Shen said.
The first post, published on Wednesday morning, said the navy wants to provide the nation's micro-bloggers with the opportunity to witness its development and urged viewers to follow the posts.
In the second post, the navy invited the public to visit vessels at ports in cities such Shanghai, Qingdao in Shandong province, and Xiamen in Fujian province on Thursday to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the founding of the PLA navy.
By late Sunday, the blog, which uses a photo of the CNS Liaoning aircraft carrier as its background, had garnered more than 140,000 fans, even though only nine posts had been published.
"As the navy takes part in an increasing number of humanitarian missions and long-distance ocean training and joint drills with foreign navies, its exposure on social media keeps rising. Having its own micro blog enables it to publish information in a timely manner, and shows that the navy is open and transparent in its operations," Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said.
The micro blog will also be used to correct and disprove inaccurate statements or rumors about the navy, according to Global Times in Beijing.
In March, a micro-blogger posted allegations that several top navy commanders "have been placed under investigation after allegations of corruption". The post, which was widely circulated on the Internet, was refuted by the police.
The micro-blogger, whom the police identified as a man surnamed Hong in Hunan province, was fined and placed under administrative detention.
Over the past month, various branches of the military have found themselves embroiled in a series of online claims challenging the authenticity of PLA war heroes. Allegations such as these usually appear on blogs before spreading to other Internet platforms.
PLA sources told the Global Times that the situation had made the military realize that running its own micro blogs and accounts on WeChat, a smartphone instant-messaging app, are essential ways of promoting and defending its image and ideology.
By the end of last year, there were about 649 million Internet users in China, including 249 million micro-bloggers, making it the biggest Web population in the world.