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English>>China Society

Emergency information must be released

By Du Liya (Global Times)

11:04, November 13, 2012

A regulation requiring that information about emergencies be released in a timely manner is now seeking public opinion in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province.

The regulation also stipulates that responsible officials who withhold information or cover up an emergency or accident in the city will be punished.

As well the regulation suggests local officials should strengthen supervision over the release of information concerning emergencies and strictly follow the accountability mechanism.

The news release system for emergencies is to be improved in an all-round manner, including press conferences, collective interviews and official online news releases.

The regulation requires local governments inform the public within two hours of an emergency.

"This is a summary of our previous experience in dealing with emergencies and it can serve as a guideline for future work," an official surnamed Ma from the Shenzhen City Office of Legislative Affairs, told the Global Times. She declined to disclose further details.

"Many mass incidents and emergencies escalate into chaos because the local government is reluctant to release information to the public. Publicizing the latest information can help solve the problem and increase the government's credibility," Gong Weibin, professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times.

Gong also pointed out that the enforcement of an accountability mechanism is the best way of ensuring the government meets its obligations in dealing with emergencies. "Public supervision is also critical to the accountability mechanism."

Web users questioned the new regulation saying that it may not be as effective as hoped.

A Sina Weibo user, named Taipingyang, said in his posting that the regulation will fail as it lacks detailed terms of punishment for those who do not fulfill their responsibility and fail to release information as required.

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