China / Politics

Protocol set for response to public sentiment

By Mo Jingxi (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-13 07:35

Government news conferences must be held within 24 hours of serious major events and incidents to deal with public concerns, the General Office of the State Council said in a statement released on Friday.

The statement further specified the responsibility of national and local government agencies in responding to public opinion on government affairs.

The development of the internet in recent years has been changing how people communicate. Social media have the ability to incite and expand public sentiment quickly and often. But "some government officials do not respond to public sentiment quickly and effectively", the release said.

Government agencies must react promptly, if they are to be effective, the release said, so news conferences should be held within 24 hours of major emergencies.

Regarding public reaction to smaller government affairs, agencies should respond within 48 hours and keep updating with authoritative information on the latest developments.

When there is notable public opinion on major State Council policies and decisions, the central government agencies directly involved should be the first to respond. Similarly, local government agencies should be the first to address the public's reaction in matters directly related to them.

The statement said that public officials must have the room to decide for themselves how they should address the public and errors they make in this regard should be tolerated.

Wang Xiaole, a communication expert at Central University of Finance and Economics, said the protocol laid out in the statement is suited to the new media era, as public sentiment can now grow much faster than before.

"This requirement will help to change the lack of willingness some local governments have in responding to people's concerns," he said.

However, Tang Jun, a social policy expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it is sometimes not a good idea to respond so quickly, because "some incidents can be complicated and time is needed to complete their investigation".

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