China orders transparent handling of major accidents after fatal train crash

08:42, August 04, 2011      

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China's central government has ordered increased transparency in the handling of major accidents and other items of public concern following a fatal high-speed train crash last month.

The general offices of the State Council, or China's Cabinet, and the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee said in a circular issued on Tuesday that information on major emergencies and items of public concern, such as the results of official investigations and the measures the government has taken to handle the emergencies, should be released to the public in an "objective and timely manner."

Governments at all levels should respond to the public's concerns in a timely fashion and provide proper guidance for public opinion, the circular said.

The document was issued just 10 days after a high-speed train crash in east China's city of Wenzhou left 40 people dead and 191 others injured. Explanations given by railway authorities have raised public doubts about the true cause of the accident, as well as the government's subsequent investigation.

"Information dispersal and public relation management were not properly conducted after the train crash," said Professor Xie Yungeng, an expert on media economics and management at Shanghai Communications University.

Xie said many officials are unaware of the powerful influence of microblogs, which have become a primary source of information for China's citizens and played a large role in facilitating public debate in the aftermath of the July 23 train crash.


During his trip to Wenzhou last week, Premier Wen Jiabao said the government's investigation into the train crash will be open, transparent and under public supervision, adding that investigators will "pay careful attention to public opinion."

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