May 1 – China formally implemented it’s national ordinance on openness of information, or zhengfu xinxi gongkai tiaoli (政府信息公开条例)。 In what some have called a break with China’s tradition of assumed secrecy of government information, the much-awaited and debated ordinance is meant to establish “active disclosure“ (主動公開) as the basic principle governing the handling of government information. The ordinance sets out categories of government information to be made available to the public, and specifies procedures by which citizens may apply for information. A lead editorial in The Beijing News said the ordinance was merely a “starting point” and pressed for more action toward achieving government transparency. “Especially important is that protecting the right to know is done in order to invigorate higher democratic rights like the right to participate and monitor. If we are to realize the ‘sustained effects’ of these democratic rights then the law cannot stop at the right to now, but should extend to the right to participate and monitor.” The following day, a editorial in China’s Legal Daily said that “public participation was the sustained impetus behind the ordinance on openness of government information.”
April 30 — Columnist Huang Fuping (皇甫平) wrote an editorial in Caijing, one of China’s leading business and current affairs magazines, discussing the politics of the international Olympic torch relay [article translated in full at ESWN]. “In our subconscious,” Huang wrote (translation courtesy of ESWN), “we were expecting the world to be awed by the modern construction projects for the Beijing Olympics so that the Chinese everywhere can feel proud. But we did not realize that the people, the mass media and the NGO’s of the world (including some with political powers) would use the Olympics to criticize our government’s governing and administrative styles as well as expect that we would make clear changes with respect democracy, human rights and rule of law during the Olympic period.
April 29 – China Youth Daily, a newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Youth League, ran an article by Lei Zhenyue (雷振岳) calling for the resignation of top leaders in the city of Fuyang (阜阳) in China’s central Anhui province for their local mishandling of an outbreak of the EV71 virus. [AFP coverage of eventual punishment of Fuyang officials and doctors]. [Danwei.org synopsis of early disease coverage].