“Open Government Information”: Tucked Away or Flatly Refused

In a further move to promote openness and transparency, the Chinese government is planning to extend the requirement for government departments to make public their sangong expenditures to lower levels of government,

China Daily reported in November last year.

The definition of these expenditures (sangong, 三公) includes government spending on overseas visits, the purchase and maintenance of government vehicles and government-sponsored reception,

But although the majority of State departments [sic]  have made public their figures as demanded, most of these figures are tucked away among assorted and separate budgetary items. The country’s current system does not obligate governments to include separate sangong expenditure figures in their budgets […]

About one year on, The Beijing News (新京报) covers the same issue – on Saturday, republished by Southern Metropolis Daily (plus a number of other online mainstream media) on Sunday:

The State Council required every department to make their sangong expenditures transparent to the public before June this year, but so far, 34 departments refuse to do so, and 27 departments give no sufficient reasons for their refusal. As is hardly known, the “Open Government Information Regulations” stipulate that all “information that involves the citizens’, judicial persons’ or other organizations’ own interests” and “require the society’s and public’s awareness or participation” belongs to the range of the government’s informational openness, and should be made transparent to the public. As this reguolation was officially implemented on May 1, 2008, why are there still 34 departments who dare to refuse transparency against the law? Where is [their] conscience of law and discipline?


In fact, the “Open Government Information Regulations'” Article 12 [article 13, actually, at least according to this translation JR] stipulates that In addition to government information disclosed by administrative agencies on their own initiative provided for in Articles 9, 10, 11 and 12, citizens, legal persons or other organizations may, based on the special needs of such matters as their own production, livelihood and scientific and technological research, also file requests departments of the State Council, local people’s governments at all levels and departments under local people’s governments at the county level and above to obtain relevant government information. As for the sources of “sangong” from government revenues and fiscal revenues, tax revenues, people should have the right to know how their taxes were used, and how efficiently they were used. Only by transparency, once people know no reasonable use [of revenues] was made, or where more [means] would be needed, can the public be in a position to supervise, which in turn is conducive to guarantee the public’s rights to speak and to supervidse, and conducive to promoting promoting progress in building “sunshine government”, thus improving the governments’ capability of winning public trust.


With power comes responsibility, argues The Beijing News. Or, it adds,

With power comes responsibility, use of power needs supervision, violation of law requires compensation, and illegal action requires investigation. Leniency or softness on authorities’ cadres won’t do much to guarantee their own responsibility, or high standards in party and cadre control.




» How are you going to use this info, Lei Chuang, CMP, April 18, 2012
» Just Thin Air, Asia Times, Sep 12, 2008


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