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EU to help China bridge digital gap
Updated: 2006-01-15 11:16

China and the European Union (EU) on Friday officially launched a cooperative project to help China enhance on-line government services.

The EU-China Information Society Project, running from July 1 of 2005 to June 30 of 2009, is funded by both sides, with 18.75 million U.S. dollars from the EU and 8.75 million dollars from China.

This project aims to promote Chinese economic and social reform through information society development and to help bridge the digital gap between developed areas and less developed ones, said Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for information society and media.

Five cities have been chosen as demonstrations of this project,including Chengdu, in central China's Sichuan Province, Baotou, in north China's Inner Mongolia and Yantai in east China's Shandong Province.

Governments of the selected cities will improve on-line service networks, such as emergency health response systems and public service systems, said Reding.

In the project, government officials will be trained with advanced experience from the EU, she said.

The State Council Informatization Office (SCITO) and the EU delegation of the European Commission, representing each side of the government, are taking charge of the project.

In China, 96.1 percent of government departments at the state level and 81.3 percent of local governments have started portal websites, according to a recent report released by the SCITO.

However, most of the websites lag behind in terms of on-line services and lack public participation, said Zhang Xianghong, senior vice-president of a consulting company under the China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID).

"Participation is the real goal of e-government," said Reding.

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