In an unusual move to reach Chinese immigrants, a California city’s police department will be the first in the country to open an account on Sina Weibo, a China-based microblogging website similar to Twitter.
Alhambra’s population of 85,000 is more than half Asian American, with three quarters of that group identifying as Chinese. The city is about eight miles north of Los Angeles.
Mayor Stephen Sham had been encouraging local government departments to engage with the Asian-American population, so when Yokoyama read an article that suggested ways in which community organizations might do that, he reached out to the author of the article Walter Ma, he said.
In addition to utilizing Weibo, which has more than 500 million users worldwide, Ma also suggested making websites mobile-friendly, using Chinese social media chat application WeChat to get a sense of where Chinese immigrants are logging on in the area, and using Chinese language in communications.
The police department will continue to develop outreach efforts with Ma and the Alahambra Source, which will provide translation resources, collect questions from residents and businesses throughout the city, host a planned forum, and recruit local volunteers, police department spokesperson Jerry Johnson said.
Although a few other government agencies run Weibo accounts to draw Chinese tourists, the Alhambra police department’s account is the first to specifically target Chinese immigrants living in America, Johnson said.
The account can be found at http://weibo.com/alhambrapolice. Look for the department’s first social media campaign, #AskAmericanPolice, in the coming weeks.