I have to admit, the first time I encountered @XHNews, calling itself the “Xinhua News Agency” — description, “A multimedia group, Xinhua delivers the most authoritative China news as well as fast and objective global news” — I thought it was a joke. (First tweet, March 1: “Annual sessions of China’s top legislature and political advisory body are scheduled to open in early March.”) It did itself no favors by posting occasionally in all-caps, a la:
XI JINPING NAMED CHAIRMAN OF CPC CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION
— Xinhua News Agency (@XHNews) November 15, 2012
Sometimes, it would post screenshots – Twitter pics — of articles that were written in English, and when the article was too long for one screenshot, it would tweet a series of them, like so. And God, who could forget this next gem?
Hu Jintao cast a vote in election for CPC Central Committee, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. twitter.com/XHNews/status/…
— Xinhua News Agency (@XHNews) November 14, 2012
Also, as recently as Friday, Xinhua tweeted about pole dancing:
China’s first national pole dancing teamyoutube.com/watch?v=H41M3_…
— Xinhua News Agency (@XHNews) December 7, 2012
But no, rest assured, @XHNews is not a spoof account. We’d love to meet the person who operates it (probably someone very senior on the copydesk). Short of that, we’ll just say that the feed is actually very clean, free of typos, sometimes rather informative. Xinhua currently has 6,611 followers while following no one back, which is probably a good thing — we’d hate to see it pull a China Daily.
However, it does seem slightly ironic for a government agency to be using Twitter when none of its people, technically, are allowed to. Twitter has been blocked by the Great Firewall since July 2009, and with recent upgrades to said firewall, several VPN services have been crippled as well. (Note to everyone: use Witopia; it still works.)
And wouldn’t you know it, Chinese Internet users have just found out about Xinhua’s naughty tweeting, and they’re none too happy about it. Via South China Morning Post:
“I am going to report this to the police: Xinhua is obviously breaching our internet laws,” said a netizen on Sina Weibo, China’s micro-blogging service.
“Xinhua has proved itself a traitor who has chosen an evil path,” said another Weibo user in an ironic tone, referring to a speech given by President Hu Jintao.
Hu had said in his speech at the 18th party congress that “we reject both the old and rigid closed-door path and the evil path of shifting banners”. The phrase “evil path” has since become a hot word among China’s internet users.
Those who are tweeting from behind the Great Firewall are trying to be cute about it, but you can sense their simmering anger:
@xhnews could u pls tell us , how can u go to twitte? isn’t it illegal in china? uh?
— 貓貓教 起哄黨 (@2013yy) December 11, 2012
— 大白Two (@dabaitwo) December 11, 2012
— dustrong (@yangyipei) December 11, 2012
Once again, “rule of law” has been made a mockery of. In China, a law is only a law if you don’t know how to get away with breaking it.
UPDATE, 12:37 am: Maybe we can use the comments section to link to our favorite Xinhua tweets? I’ll get us started:
— Xinhua News Agency (@XHNews) July 17, 2012
UPDATE, 12:53 am: Oh this is rich. Check out who Xinhua retweeted back in March: