Much the same as Twitter, microblogs allow users to post messages of 140 Chinese characters or less via the Web, SMS or MMS. Since "微博(microblog)" in Chinese sounds similar to "围脖(scarf)", the activity of "updating one's microblog (更新微博)" is jokingly dubbed "knitting a scarf (织围脖)" in China.
Microblogging has become an Internet phenomenon since Sina.com started beta testing its microblogging service, Sina Weibo, in August 2009.
"Twitter brought the concept of the microblog to China, but it is Sina Weibo that has popularized this kind of Internet service here," says Hu Yong, an expert on new media from the School of Journalism and Communication of Peking University.
According to a China Youth Daily survey, which involved 3,282 people from 30 provinces around China, 87 percent of them use microblogs to read about public opinion on current affairs and post their own thoughts.
Microblogging has changed people's lives in many ways, often for the better. Among the surveyed people, 62 percent used microblogs to participate in charitable activities. 67 percent say microblogging has changed the way they make friends and communicate with others. A similar number say it has changed their way of expressing themselves and they are now able to record their thoughts anywhere, any time.
(China.org.cn November 30, 2010)