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Remote Tibetan county reaches out via microblog
2012/07/01
  

LASHA, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Zayu county, located in southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, has managed to connect with tourists around the world despite its remote location through the magic of microblogging.

Wang Ruizhi, a local government official in the county's village of Zhala, opened an account for the village on Sina Weibo, the country's most popular microblogging site, in 2011. He said he has updated it every day since then, posting information about activities, weather and tourism in his village.

Ni Yong, the county's deputy Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary, took a cue from Wang's efforts to promote his village and worked to encourage other villages to create their own online presence. To date, 15 of the county's 96 villages have opened accounts on Sina Weibo, Ni said.

"Although roads and rails cannot reach Zayu, information about the county must be spread," Ni said.

The county's rough terrain often causes transportation disruptions, and snowy weather sometimes traps local residents in their homes. The villages' Weibo accounts, therefore, are particularly useful in helping the county maintain communication with the outside world, Ni said.

Village officials have been tasked with updating the Weibo accounts. The county's publicity department requires no fewer than 10 posts each month for each village account, according to Jampa Yudron, deputy head of the department.

"Weibo can help us present the work we have done, as well as share information and resources to attract investors and tourists," Yudron said.

Zhala is a two-day drive away from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Although the walnuts, peaches and other agricultural products harvested in Zhala could be sold for a great deal of money in the city, poor transportation infrastructure prevents local farmers from selling their products elsewhere.

"What I want to do most is to help local residents sell their agricultural products through Weibo," said Wang.

The microblog accounts have not only allowed Zayu county to make its voice heard, but have also allowed it to hear the voices of others. Wang recalled a Weibo user with the screenname "ye zihang henry" who contacted him in May to ask about donating clothes and food to local residents. Wang gave the user an address and received a parcel containing the donations on June 19.

"Seeing smiles on the faces of the Tibetan elders and children with food and clothes in their hands made me feel quite happy. I will go to Tibet again and visit Zayu if I have the chance," the user commented on a photo posted by Wang on the village's Weibo account.

Ni said the county microblogs allow villagers to get a glimpse of the outside world

"I can obtain information about other villages through the text and pictures they post. Other staff members can directly communicate with each other through private messages and comments," Ni said.

Wei Zejun, another official from Zayu county's publicity department, said the county's residents manage to keep up with the microblogs through their mobile phone networks, as conventional optical networks have yet to reach the county.

"In fact, local residents don't know much about Weibo. We will send village officials to teach them how to use Weibo and help them to understand local policies," Ni added.

Jin Jianbin, a professor at Tsinghua University, said the microblogs have played a significant role in facilitating communication and exchanges between the villages of Zayu and other areas.

Jin said the local government should request more support to boost literacy among county residents in order to help them better understand the microblogs.

 
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