People web wires messages to meetings
Short message services, or SMS, have grown so popular in China they've even found their way into one of the country's most important political events -- the annual session of China's top legislature and political advisory body.
As a core value-added business for mobile phone operators, SMS -- brief text messages sent on mobile phones -- have been increasingly accepted by Chinese cellular phone users.
The country's 260 million mobile phone users sent a total of 220 billion SMS messages last year to shore up the booming "thumb economy,'' or the so-called mobile based messaging.
Now for the first time in the country, People.com.cn, the website operated by People's Daily, has introduced an SMS programme to serve the annual meetings of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Mobile phones users can subscribe to real-time news about the two sessions via short messages from the website during the annual meetings of the NPC and CPPCC National Committee.
Users can also send their suggestions and advice through the system to the website, which will post some of the messages on its web pages.
More significant and constructive suggestions will be handed over to related departments of the NPC and CPPCC National Committee for reference.
Under the SMS programme, NPC deputies and CPPCC members can subscribe to text messaging free of charge from the website to learn what topics common people are most concerned about, as well as their hopes for the two meetings.
The programme runs from February 24 to March 20.
So far, the number of subscribers of real-time news about the NPC and CPPCC National Committee meetings has reached 15,000, according to Xia Ji at Mtone Wirless, technology provider of the SMS programme.
Meanwhile, mobile phone users have sent more than 8,000 messages from around the country to the website.
"Their suggestions and advice cover all the hot topics such as rising unemployment, corruption and stagnant income growth for farmers,'' said a clerk surnamed Li with the Information Department of the website.
"Through these messages, we can deeply feel the enthusiasm about State affairs among the public and their desires to build up our country.''
Li said the SMS programme will play an important role in effective communications between common people and more than 5,000 meeting participants.
CPPCC member Li Xiaolin expressed his appreciation for the innovative use of messaging to better reflect the will of the people.
"As a new technology, SMS can help set up a platform to make it easier for the public to take part in the discussion of State affairs,'' he said.
"What's even more important is that members of the NPC and CPPCC National Committee can also have a easy way to learn about the true opinions of the ordinary people and better promote their interests.''
Critics, however, tend to consider the move just as a marketing ploy to make more money.
It remains doubtful whether the members of the NPC and CPPCC National Committee can really get important suggestions if too many messages flood in each day, writes media commentator Yi Dao on the Economic Daily.