In recent years, China has made progress in promoting the transparency of its government administration. This has given people more opportunities to understand government principles, regulations and policies, which actually aids the work of the government.
86 percent of government organs have official websites
Last year, more and more government organs and departments launched their official websites. So far, 96 percent of the departments of the State Council, 97 percent of provincial government organs, 96.7 percent of municipal government departments and 87 percent of county-level governments have launched their own websites. In total, 86 percent of government organs have official websites.
On January 1, 2006, China formally launched a website for the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China (www.gov.cn), serving as a window to the Chinese government's administrative affairs. The website now uploads approximately 1,000 pieces of news and information every day. Daily average page-views number in the several millions.
By the end of last year, the website of had published over 500 government documents and more than 250 communiqu��s issued by the State Council, provided access to approximately 1100 online services offered by 71 departments of the State Council, including 1267 service items for Chinese citizens, corporations and foreigners.
In Daqing city, Heilongjiang province, a 24-hour information hotline is accessible to all. Operators work 24/7 to answer people's questions and solve their problems. "Through the internet, I know what the government is doing every day and I can do more things than before," a visitor to the website of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China said in a posting.
Regulations formulated to improve government administration transparency
In January of this year, the State Council executive meeting examined and approved in principle a draft for the "Information Publication Act of the Government of the People's Republic China". The Act provides for the "principle of opening and transparency" and the "regarding of non-public actions as exceptions". It also makes specific provisions for the scope, subject, channel, procedure, monitoring and security of the publication of government affairs.
Currently, 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and 36 departments of the State Council have formulated regulations for the opening of administrative affairs. Eleven provinces have actually developed local laws to govern this. .
Zhou Hanhua, a professor at the Institute of Law under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was involved in drafting the Information Publication Act. According to him, the Act will provide regulations for governments at all levels opening their administrative affairs to the public.
Firstly, the content for publication is more extensive. In the past, the government only explained its working basis, procedures, and results. Now the Act will demand that governments at all levels make the process public and transparent. Secondly, once the Act comes into effect, the opening of government administrative affairs will no longer be a "favor" from the government, but a duty and statutory obligation.
Administrative efficiency and service level improvement
Opening government administrative affairs will improve the government's efficiency and service levels. For example, it used to take 20 working days for the relevant department to approve an application for a restaurant license in Tianjin. Now the whole process can be accomplished in approximately five working days. Moreover, the government provides a one-stop service which saves time and energy for applicants.
Many Beijing residents often visit the website of the Beijing Municipal Government (www.beijing.gov.cn) because it provides the answers to many of their questions. For example, under "Personal Services", they can bring up their personal driving records.
Song Gongde, an associate researcher at the National School of Administration said that publicizing administrative information is a basic public service that should be provided by the government. Information is the basis for decision making. The public will have a better understanding of the policy if it is more transparent, therefore is more likely to accept it.
A professor at Tsinghua University, Yu An, said that governments at all levels are endeavoring to improve their transparency by improving service-oriented administration through diversified channels.
By People's Daily Online