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Government 'face to face' online with general public
Updated: 2006-01-02 11:19

The Chinese governments at all levels have established "face to face" contacts with the general public online, thanks to the formal launch of the central government website, www.Gov.Cn, on Sunday.

The website, in both Chinese and English versions, is a network connecting all provincial and city-level governments. As Wang Yukai, a professor with the State Administrative College, has observed, the new website is designed to "kick off a new age for e-government" in China.

Wang said in 1999, a nationwide campaign was launched to set up the e-government system. Since then, almost all governments above the county level have set up their own official websites, and China now has more than 10,000 government websites.

However, Wang noted, since the domain names and contents of different government websites are separate and diversified, people must first know which government body they should turn to before they can access its website and seek help, causing much inconvenience for the public.

"The launch of the central government website has effectively solved the problem," said Wang. "The website has unified all government resources and information on the Internet, and has also set an example for the local governments in running their own websites."

The new website has specific service areas to provide people with policy consultation and administrative services. Zhou Hongduo, a professor with the Network Economy Research Center of Communication University of China, said the website would enable people to schedule their life and work more efficiently as they have now gained a better knowledge of state policies and government information.

Meanwhile, Zhou said, the website will make government organs better informed, as common people can now directly voice their opinions and put forth suggestions online. "This is good for enhancing government efficiency," he added.

Zhou noted that the website will turn out to be very helpful to the country`s entrepreneurs, who need to consider state policies first before making major business decisions. As to foreigners who know little about China, now they could also get a comprehensive picture of China through an authoritative official channel, he added.

In the two-month trial operation of the central government website, Internet surfers left more than 770 messages on a forum at www.Xinhuanet.Com, to express their expectations over the "government online" under construction. Most of them said they look forward to a government that serves the people "with a smiling face" and performs its duties "with high efficiency."

Wang, the professor with the State Administrative College, said the newly-established "government online" will undoubtedly save the time and cost of administrative management in China, yet it will also challenge the government`s capability in public service and inter-departmental coordination.

Observing a great potential for China's e-government practice, Zhou, the Communication University professor, said that he foresees a "significant role" of the "government online" in the country`s bid to build a "harmonious society."

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