A landmark statute to increase government transparency and bolster its fight
against abuses of power was unveiled Tuesday.
The Regulations on Open Government Information, signed by Premier Wen Jiabao,
require officials to swiftly release information involving "the immediate
interests of individuals and groups".
The rules, to come into effect next May thus allowing time for departments to
prepare also empower citizens to request "special information", which the
departments must provide immediately or within 30 days at the most.
"The regulations, which guarantee people's right to know, will facilitate the
masses to supervise government departments in correctly exercising their power
... and prevent abuses of power," Zhang Qiong, deputy director of the
Legislative Office of the State Council, said.
Priorities areas include details of government spending and procurements,
administrative approvals, and collection of public service fees, in addition to
investigations into environment, workplace safety and public health.
Governments at county level are required to make public data on land
acquisitions, and village authorities will have to reveal information on land
use and financial accounting.
Illegal land seizures or expropriation, plus farmers' discontent over village
finances and pollution, have long been triggering "mass protests" in some rural
areas, experts said.
"The rules are key to building a 'harmonious society' and developing a
transparent, clean and efficient administrative system," Zhang told a press
conference held by the State Council Information Office.
"They will help to contain and prevent corruption institutionally and at its
Zhang said the open government information system would strike a balance
between openness and confidentiality.
The rules stipulate those releasing information steer clear of releasing
"State secrets, confidential commercial information and infringing on an
But administrative staff can put confidential information in the public
domain when they believe not doing so would seriously prejudice the public
By making sharing information resources a basic government service, the new
statute would facilitate the public to better participate in the government's
decision-making process, Yu Guoming, vice-dean of the Journalism School of the
Renmin University of China, told China Daily yesterday.
However, the regulations should have made more explicit stipulations
regarding what constitutes a failure to make public key government information,
and what the consequences would be should officials fail to do so, Song Gongde,
a researcher with the China National School of Administration, said.
The regulations only say citizens have the right to appeal and authorities
will intervene or even penalize those who fail to fulfill their duties of making
open government information or do not update their service in