On January 15, a public hearing took place in the southern Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen. Instead of having to jump through the usual bureaucratic hoops, participants dialed in virtually – via China’s most popular social app, WeChat. In the past, they would have to submit a signup form via email or in person, wait a few days for approval, and then turn up in person at the designated venue on the day of the hearing.
“Now you sign up on the WeChat official account of the Shenzhen Legislative Affairs Office,” says a participant, referring to the government agency’s WeChat equivalent of a Facebook Page. “And you would get a notification regarding your signup status. When the time arrives, you enter a live chat room through the official account and start typing in your views.”