China’s top administrative authority, the State Council, passed “in principle” yesterday the long-awaited ordinance on information disclosure [中华人民共和国政府信息公开条例（草案)], which some experts believe could give the public and media better access to a whole range of government information.
The ordinance, which could pave the way for a more powerful law on information disclosure, has been in the works since the National People’s Congress submitted a proposal for creation of a draft in March 2006. The draft was to make its debut by the end of last year, but was reportedly held up by internal wrangling between top government officials and elements within the propaganda apparatus, and many local officials, who felt it might give the media too much power.
A number of local governments in China, including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Zhengzhou, have come out with their own disclosure ordinances over the last few years. Isolated cases of journalists or citizens attempting to use these regulations to access government information have been unsuccessful, but some experts believe the national ordinance, once it takes effect, could put local governments under greater pressure to comply.
[Posted by David Bandurski, January 18, 2007, 12:28pm]