Chinese microblogging site helps promote Nepal

Chen Yingying, English News Editor of en.kunming.cn, a Yunnan-based digital newspaper, often logs on to Sina Weibo, a microblogging site, to get preliminary information about Nepal.

“On Sina Weibo, postings about Nepal have increased of late,” says Chen. “Therefore, we rely on it to get information about Nepal.”

Chen adds, “Weibo is very popular in China. So, it is emerging as the most effective medium to introduce Nepal in China.”

Over the past few years, more and more mediapersons, travel agencies and ordinary people are using social networking sites. As Sina Weibo contains more postings about Nepal than any other microblogging site, it is turning into a wide platform to promote Nepal in China.

The latest posting about Nepal in Sina Weibo is an advice by Nepal´s President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to Chinese journalists. Two months ago, a group of Yunnan-based Chinese journalists had visited Nepal and met President Dr Yadav, who advised them to raise awareness about the birthplace of the Buddha among the Chinese people in Chinese language.

“The birthplace of the Buddha is Lumbini, which is in Nepal and not in India,” said President Dr Yadav, who understood the power of Chinese language during his visit to Shanghai three years ago. “I hope you will tell the Chinese people in Chinese language that the Buddha was born in Nepal.”

There is no alternative to using the Chinese language if Nepal needs to be promoted in China. And this is exactly what Sina Weibo is doing – without charging a single penny.

Sina Weibo contains a lot of information, pictures and videos about Nepal´s popular tourism destinations like Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur durbar squares, Baudha Stupa, Swayambhu, Mt Everest, Fewa Lake, Machhapuchchhre, the Chitwan National Park and Lumbini.

Pages of Sina Weibo are filled with Chinese tourists´ experiences about Nepali food and culture with colorful pictures. Under pseudonyms like Phulmaya, Nepali Keti and Nepali Boy, they are all praise for Nepali hospitality.

Zhang Yin, who visited Nepal in last December, has written: “In Nepal, there is power outage, water shortage and problem in communication network. But, Nepali people are very friendly, happy and confident.”

Yu Jincui, Op-ed Editor of Global Times, believes that Chinese tourists´ posting on Sina Wiebo is promoting Nepal in China. “Hotels and airlines have also posted information regarding Nepal on Sina Weibo,” says Yu. “Colorful description and breathtaking pictures about Nepal always excite Chinese tourists to visit Nepal. Some even search for travel agencies that arrange Nepal visits through Sina Weibo.”

In China, social and microblogging sites have hit rough weather in the wake of anti-government protests in Xinjiang in 2009. In the midst of protests, the Chinese government banned Fanfou, a domestic social networking site, in China. In the following months, globally-popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter were also banned in China. That was when Charles Chao, a Chinese businessman, launched Sina Weibo, which is now known as the largest microblogging site.

Sina Weibo users say it is like a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. But, most of its features are akin to those of Twitter. As on Twitter, users are allowed to write just 140 characters per message. They can also put links of photos and videos. Users can also send e-mails and text messages from Sina Weibo. China Daily has written that Chinese businessmen, teachers, NGO members and government employees are now addicted to Sina Weibo for discussing current affairs and exchanging information.

In China, a country of 1.36 billion people, over 600 million people use the Internet, according to reports. Of them, over 50 million Internet users use Sina Weibo and make over 100 million postings every day, reports suggested in 2012. However, with the government keeping a tab on postings critical of the Chinese Communist Party, according to reports, the number of Sina Weibo users declined by 13 percent.

Essentially great lovers of freedom, the Chinese people are now turning to Wechat, another microblogging site, as well. Meanwhile, other social networking sites like Renren, Tencent and Douban are also gearing up to give a tough competition to Sina Weibo. While microblogging sites are emerging as a medium of expression, an essential characteristic of liberal China, they could also be useful for Nepal to draw Chinese tourists.

“Sina Weibo is a medium to reach out to the Chinese people,” says Mahesh Maskey, Nepal´s ambassador to China. “We also post some messages from our embassy´s website on Sina Weibo.”

source: republica, 31 Jan 2014

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