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“You can’t just stuff the genie back into the bottle,” said Bandurski. “You have also to channel public opinion … officially, they are seeing social media as the best way to send out their authoritative information and kind of drive the agenda.”

But the government remains yoked to its party-ese, which can seem hopelessly out of date in the Twitter age.

A dispatch on the trend by the official Xinhua News Agency gives a hint to the flavor of Beijing’s rhetoric.

“The Internet has been unprecedentedly embedded into the ongoing National Congress of the Communist Party of China,” the news agency trumpeted over the weekend. “Not only can contents on the Internet be found in the congress report, but online media practitioners are attending the congress in person.”

On Saturday, Chairman Mao’s grandson Mao Xinyu tweeted this to his 105,943 followers on Renmin Weibo, the microblog of the official party paper, the People’s Daily: “Mao Zedong thought will always be the guiding ideology of the party.”

It got 155 retweets, a mediocre showing in China’s lively Web sphere.


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