At Mao-style leadership conclave, China's communists embrace microblogging, drawing Web jeers

BEIJING, China – During China’s last party congress, the cadres in charge of the world’s most populous nation didn’t know a hashtag from a hyperlink. But five years on, there’s a new message from Beijing: The political transition will be microblogged.

Party officials have embraced social media with unprecedented enthusiasm, hoping it can help guide public opinion and stir up excitement about the staid party meeting this week that kicks off a transition to new, younger leaders.

Dozens of the more than 2,000 party delegates are using social media to post about China’s rise and party leader Hu Jintao’s 90-minute reading of highlights from this year’s party work report.

But the Internet is a two-way street that’s also being used by the public to poke fun at, and critique, the propaganda.