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Thomas Mulcair joins Weibo, world’s largest Chinese social network

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair hands out red packets during the Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver, British Columbia February 17, 2013. According to the Chinese zodiac, the Lunar New Year began on February 10 and marks the start of the Year of the Snake.

BEN NELMS/REUTERS

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is reaching out to Canada's Chinese-speaking residents by going to where they (or at least some of them) are: Sina Weibo.

The Chinese-language social network is used by nearly 400 million users worldwide, and while Canada-specific numbers aren't available, a share of that is likely to come from the one-million-plus speakers of Chinese languages identified in the 2011 census.

"Weibo reaches out to the vast and growing number of Chinese-Canadians on the Internet," Mr. Mulcair said in a statement. "It's a way to connect with them directly and hear the issues they face. I'm excited to join this large online community and I look forward to engaging with them."

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Mr. Mulcair is the first prominent federal politician to join the Twitter-like site, though he follows in the footsteps of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertston and celebrities such as figure skater Patrick Chan.

Both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Robertson rely on staffers to translate their updates.

Canada's embassy in Beijing joined Weibo in June of 2011. And the Xinhua news service reported last year on Waterloo, Ont., Mayor Brenda Halloran joining the site.

Weibo has had its share of controversies. It has been more willing than other social networks to censor its users, allowing it to survive in a country where the government seeks to control online conversations.

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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More

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