Saturday, November 26, 2011

‘China has a lot of laws on information release'

‘China has a lot of laws on information release'
By Mwala Kalaluka in Beijing, China
Sat 26 Nov. 2011, 11:59 CAT

CHINESE government departments are legally bound to avail information concerning them which the public have a right to know, says a state information officer. And the Chinese government says the supervision of the country's fast-paced Internet technological development will be managed within the confines of the law.

During a Chinese government-organised seminar for information officers from English-speaking countries at Beijing's 21st Century Hotel on Tuesday, deputy director general of the Information Office of the State Council, Hua Quing, said only in exceptional circumstances can information be withheld.

Hua was responding to a question from The Post on whether China had an information law.

"China has a lot of laws and regulations concerning information release, press and publication. Let me cite the two latest ones and the ones which have been given the most attention by the public," he said.

"On May 1st, 2008, we enacted the regulation on the information release of government departments of China. According to that regulation, government departments in China must open the information concerning them which the public have a right to know."

He said this regulation was usually referred to as China's ‘Sunshie Law'.

"For example, according to this regulation, all the laws and regulations adopted by the Chinese Legislature, all the policy measures and actions and decisions and notices taken by government agencies must be released online," Hua said.

"That's to say the citizens have a right to demand the ministry to release the information. If they make such demand, the government agencies have to do accordingly."

He said another information law is the Law of PRC, which concerns the response to incident and emergencies.

"This law stipulates clearly the action and measures the government agencies should take in the wake of incidents and emergencies. The law also stipulates that after each major disaster or incident, the government has to release information," Hua said. "The law stipulates that government agencies and officials shall not conceal information concerning incidents or report partially or report fake information to the public, otherwise they will be held accountable."

He said China had laws that stipulated what category of information should not be availed to the public.

"As you know China is now building a market economy and this year marks the 10th anniversary of China's ascension to the World Trade Organisation and as we are building a market economy we have to play by market rules," said Hua.

"So information regarding market secrets or business secrets should not be released to the public."

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