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The microblog, or weibo

The microblog, or weibo (微博), is a close equivalent to Twitter in China. Weibo sounds like scarf (围脖) in Chinese and to write a microblog is usually dubbed as knitting a scarf.

Typed within a maximum of 140 characters, the message of microblog is sent via Web, SMS or MMS. The content can be anything from critical comments to the expression of moods and feelings. Microbloggers can have a group of fans who visit their webpage and give corresponding comments.

Sina.com released its latest data in May 2012 showing that the number of its microblog registered users has grown to 324 million. Chinese actress Yao Chen is the most popular microblogger in the entertainment circle and has more than 20 million fans.

Many of Sina microbloggers believe the new medium has changed their lives in many ways. The users find microblogs make it easier to access information and make friends compared to traditional media. In addition, they can record their thoughts whenever and wherever they like. The microblog is becoming a popular communication tool even among China's government officials, scholars and celebrities. It can also turn ordinary people into stars overnight as long as their stories are interesting enough to be highly circulated.

Business opportunities have also come with the development of the microblog. Apart from Sina's recent partnership with MSN, which allows users to log onto Sina's microblog with their MSN accounts, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg also met Sina chief Charles Cao for an information exchange on the Chinese Internet market.