During a State Council work conference on clean government earlier this week, China’s new premier, Li Keqiang (李克强), affirmed the principle of open government information (OGI), saying there needed to be greater transparency in China to “allow the masses to effectively supervise the government.”
Li words echoed the sentiments of his predecessor, Wen Jiabao, who said during his government work report to the National People’s Congress in March 2010 that China needed to “create the conditions for the public to criticize and monitor the government.”
Li Keqiang said this week that open government information had become even more imperative as social media had created mass demand for timely information:
Right now our society is already one with a high level of transparency. There are already hundreds of millions of Weibo users. If government information is not released in a timely manner this generates animated discussion and speculation, and this can easily cause resentment among the people and give rise to negative influences, ultimately putting the government on its back foot in doing its work.
Offering what quickly became a popular meme on social media, Li also said the government needed to “speak the truth, and deliver” (说真话、交实底).
[ABOVE: Premier Li Keqiang addresses a State Council conference on clean government on March 25, 2013.]
Li said there were many “hot spot issues,” or redian wenti (热点问题), in China today that directly concerned the interests of the public — issues like environmental pollution, food safety and workplace safety. These issues, he said, were both important and “delicate.”
“We need to release related information in a timely way, actively allowing the masses to understand the actual situation, and subjecting ourselves to the supervision of the public and the media,” Li said.
He emphasized that the government needed to be proactive, and that it “cannot respond and be open only after the reaction from society has become severe.”
One Weibo user quipped in response to the Li Keqiang news, adding a giggling emoticon: “Speaking the truth and delivering — are they just thinking of this now?”