Governors at the People’s Bank of China have stepped up their social media game as of late. For days they’ve been posting cute cat photos on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter (which is blocked in China). That wasn’t gaining much traction, with only the suits at the ministries of finance and commerce re-posting the furry felines.
That’s probably why PBOC late on Thursday announced on its Weibo account that it pumped billions of yuan into China’s monetary system via short-term liquidity operations, or SLOs. You see, central bank rules say that SLOs must be announced a month after they are conducted. But PBOC just couldn’t wait that long to generate a storm in the social media universe.
It worked. The message was re-posted many times by ordinary people and paramount leaders alike. Zhongnanhai’s (very unofficial) account messaged back:
“@PBOC: Whoa whoa whoa…SLO down there big guy…hehe”
Other state organs could learn from the bank and how it’s garnering the hearts and minds of all the dull people who care about interbank market activity.
For example, the National Development and Reform Committee (whose offices still smell like Lenin’s overcoat) could brighten its image with a little tweeting of its own. Instead of covertly threatening US companies with jail time, they could just post their accusations directly on Weibo. China Securities Regulatory Commission should post any new IPO directives on their account accompanied by photo galleries of crazy mustaches.
Heck, even the Communist Party could start issuing policy statements exclusively over social media. CER recommends that the next 5,000-character work report that technocrats issue should be broadcasted in about 50 short micro-blog blasts. They could present the next 5-year plan that way.
In the days to come, PBOC will need to step up its game to compete with the US Federal Reserve, which just announced that it will slow its US$85-billion-per-month bond purchases. We all know that Chairman Ben Bernanke will be posting photos of awkward cats for the next few days.
To get netizens’ attention, China’s central bank could tweet forex buy-ups, or US debt purchases. It could even tell bitcoin to bugger off the mainland in a post, although that could result in the digital currency turning into digital debt for anyone holding it.
If they’re going to really grab anyone’s attention, they might need to tweet about a sudden lifting of controls on the capital account. A sudden liberalization of the yuan announced via Weibo would get plenty of re-posts. Except that could irk Zhongnanhai. “@PBOC: WTH bro?…ttyl”
Editor’s note: The CER team would like to thank all of our readers for your support and suggestions in 2013 and wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. There will be no weekly newsletter next week. Publication resumes January 3.