Source: Mark Mackinnon, The Globe and Mail

In the slow-evolving world of diplomacy, it may be the biggest innovation since the wax seal: social media that lets Canadian diplomats go around the censors to speak directly to, and hear from, the citizens of the world’s rising superpower.

Tired of having their message telegraphed (or not) through the muddying filter of China’s official media, the Canadian Embassy in Beijing opened an account on the popular Twitter-style social networking site Sina Weibo in June 2011. Rather than waiting for the next ministerial visit before issuing a bland statement, Embassy staff now post four or five items a day on Weibo – many of them inane or irreverent, all of them in Chinese.