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China promotes transparent government
Updated: 2004-11-30 15:58

Government agencies in China have been asked to further publicize government affairs to the public to promote effective administration.

"All administrative information pertaining to the interests of the public -- except state secrets, business secrets and matters of personal privacy -- must be made public," said He Yong, deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said at a national symposium on publicizing government affairs here recently.

Departments that do not obey the rules "will be punished seriously," he said.

The move is seen as another step of the Chinese Government towards building a transparent, clean and efficient government, part of its efforts to boost economic prosperity and social order.

Demand for administrative information, including major policies, rules and plans for development, has been running high among both the business community and the general public.

"Lack of information, especially government information, has led to many problems," said Zhang Xiaoyu, vice chairman of a research institute on multinational companies. "Even regional governments sometimes do not get enough policy information from higher authorities."

According to Zhang, until last month, more than 100 counties in coal-rich Shanxi Province vigorously applied for approval to build power plants so that the rich coal reserves could be transformed into electricity easy of transmission.

"It was only last month that heads of these counties learned that the existing power grid in the region could no longer accommodate more power plants. It was wild-goose chase by heads of more than 100 counties for nearly a year," he said.

For the general public, there's a need to learn about government administrative policies and rules for their own interests.

"We need to know what rights we enjoy and the steps to take to safeguard our rights," said Zhou Sheng, a teacher in Beijing.

Besides serving public need, the transparent government policy also serves the government itself.

Hua Jianmin, State Councilor and Secretary-General of the State Council, said publicizing government information will create more convenience for the people, propel the government to administer according to law and strengthen supervision of executive power.

A set of rules on publicizing government information at the national level is also expected to come out soon. Before that, a number of actions have been taken towards the transparent government goal. Big cities, including Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, have already instituted rules on publicizing government information and adopted the government spokesman system.

Government websites, including those of Beijing and Shanghai, abound in government information on the latest decisions and plans. They also carry notices soliciting public opinions on major issues.

Publicizing administrative affairs, including revenue and expenditures, have become standard practice in most Chinese villages. The government is asking higher administrative organs to follow suit, following the traditional Chinese reform style of " experiment and then promote."

"Overall, the government is learning to deal conscientiously with new issues. That's a very encouraging sign," said Zhou. "It has done well in promoting economic growth. I hope it behaves just as well in administration."

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