The Chinese online media company Sina says it is launching an English-language microblog aimed at users abroad.
The company says the English version of its popular Weibo microblog service will debut later this year, but no launch date has been set. Chinese reports last week saying the company was considering the move prompted some analysts to suggest the service could eventually rival the giant U.S.-based Twitter, a service available in nine languages that serves more than 200 million registered users.
By comparison, the official Xinhua news agency says the Chinese-language Weibo service introduced in 2009 boasted 140 million users by April of this year. The report says Sina aims to increase its number of registered Weibo users to more than 200 million by the end of this year.
China imposes tough controls on the Internet, and microblogging sites such as Weibo, are monitored for sensitive material. Discussion of topics such as China's repression of the Falun Gong faith group and public discontent are banned.