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China’s Tencent Weibo launches English-language service

Chinese web giant Tencent has launched an English version of its Twitter-like microblogging service.

According Chinese newspaper, China Daily, the English version of Tencent Weibo is the first of its kind in China.

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The platform offers features familiar to most social network users, including posting, topic discussions, private messaging, photo and video uploading, and online chatting.

According to the paper, Xing Hongyu, general manager of the Tencent Weibo business unit, claims the English version of Tencent Weibo will enhance the company’s global influence.

Tencent is behind a number of China’s most popular social networking services, including Tencent QQ which has more than 600-million users.

Tencent Weibo has attracted more than 200-million users since its launch in 2010, which means that it is competing head to head with western counterpart Twitter in terms of user numbers.

In China, Tencent’s weibo competes closely with that of its rival Sina.

Sina announced plans to release its own English weibo in June. It would appear, though, that Tencent has beaten it to the punch.

According to China Daily, the English version of the Tencent Weibo service can be accessed automatically, when the system recognises a user’s IP address as foreign.

China’s weibos burst onto the scene after Twitter was blocked in 2009 by Chinese authorities.

The block was part of an information clampdown following an outbreak of ethnic violence in China’s western Xinjiang region, following an outbreak of ethnic violence in China’s western Xinjiang region.

Like all of China’s social networks, Tencent Weibo blocks any content it deems politically sensitive. In the midst of the Arab Spring, for instance, it blocked searches for the word “Egypt”.

Chinese authorities have, however, battled to maintain control over the country’s 500-million web users recently. This battle for control has been particularly evident on the weibos, which have been used by citizens as a place to vent anger over government corruption, scandals and disasters.

It is unclear precisely how Tencent plans to market the English-language version of its Weibo platform. One strategy, however, may be to attract Western celebrities.

Such a strategy worked well for the simplified Chinese version of Tencent Weibo. Chinese athlete Liu Xiang is the most followed celebrity on Tencent Weibo with more than 23-million followers.

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