US police all a-twitter about Weibo
Updated: 2014-01-10 08:51
The police department of Alhambra, California opened an account with Sina Weibo, aiming to reach out to the Chinese community.[Zhang Chaoqun/Xinhua]
To some extent, though, it has become a two-way street and followers regularly offer information related to local crimes highlighted on the platform, according to Yu.
The feedback has been warm and Chinese residents said that before the platform was established they knew little about crimes committed in their neighborhoods, which left them - business owners especially - at a disadvantage, and they appreciate the open communication about this and other, healthier, aspects of community life. The account has also helped in other ways - for example, it has become a forum where followers can ask questions they've pondered for a long time, but didn't know where to look for answers.
Leo Xiao was born on the Chinese mainland in 1990 and studied at Pasadena City College. After living in West Covina in the greater Los Angeles area for six years, he returned to China in 2013. Shortly after his return, Xiao heard that the Alhambra police had opened a Weibo account and began to follow it.
"I found it very helpful as a platform to learn how the police department is run in the area, even though I was rarely involved in community activities," he said. "All I knew about the community came via the local Chinese media."
Xiao, who is planning to return the US at some point, said before the account opened, he knew little about the subjects posted on the platform. "It definitely makes me feel closer to the local police department and the community."
Wang Xinyi, who is studying for a doctorate in pathology at USC's Keck School of Medicine, lives two blocks from the Alhambra police department. Although she can speak and write English, she prefers to use Chinese information providers. "Languages are the medium of culture. I have no problem communicating in English, but when I see micro blog posts in Chinese, I feel more at home. It makes me feel closer to the community," she said.
Daniel Hung, who was born and raised in Houston, Texas, but whose parents come from Taiwan, said: "Chinese immigrants usually do not participate in the community because of the cultural and language barriers. Like Korean-Americans, they usually stay within in their own groups. In my experience, the only thing that brings different races closer is a shared belief. Churches usually organize bigger events that bring the community together."