|The Chinese Central Govt. Website Opens Formally|
The website of China's central government, http://english.gov.cn, opened formally at zero hour today following a three-month trial operation.
There was no grand ribbon-cutting ceremony for the launch of the website. But according to Wu Jiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, this could be seen as a starting point for the establishment of an electronic government and a demonstration of the Chinese government's resolve to make itself more transparent and service-oriented.
The website has aimed at providing a platform for the departments under the State Council, or the Chinese cabinet, and the provincial, autonomous regional and municipal governments across the country to release information on government affairs and provide online services. Since the beginning of its trial operation on Oct. 1, 2005, it has won acclaims from almost all circles of the society.
An online survey, conducted by the website itself, showed that 93 percent of the responding netizens regarded the launch of the website as "something quite necessary."
The website, in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and English versions, has four sections. The section of information about government affairs is for providing information on government work. The service section provides online services for citizens, enterprises and foreigners. The other two sections offer communication channels between the government and citizens, as well as a search engine.
Wu, an expert on administrative science, said the formal opening of the website is a major step in pushing forward administrative innovation and building a service-oriented government in China. The website is a window for the citizens to learn all information concerning governmental affairs, and therefore can help safeguard the citizen's rights to know and get involved in government administration.
The website will help enhance the communication between government and citizens. And the governments could directly get public feedback on their policies through the website, thus promoting the practice of "democratic and scientific policy-making," said Wu.
"As a matter of fact, the significance of e-government mainly lies in its promotion of democratic administration," he added.
In the service section of the website, 50 departments under the State Council and organizations affiliated to the State Council have released information on how to go through the administrative examination and approval process in various fields.
Li Fangran, an employee of Beijing Agriculture Bank, said the new website seems to have close connections with ordinary people's everyday life. Taking herself as an example, Li said she could now easily find useful information about tourism, transportation, medical care, passport application and education on the website.
"Once I logged onto the website to search for information about private passport application. After keying in the word 'passport' into the search engine, I got dozens of search results, from which I easily learnt the procedures I need to go through and the documents to prepare," Li recalled.
Shelly Kraicer, a Canadian movie columnist now working in China, said the website is a window for foreigners to learn about China. She said she often learnt the latest news about China from the website, especially from columns like China Today and China Factfile.
Mao Donglin, an official with the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), said he had frequently browsed the website since Oct. 1, and had found that the website was linked to the websites of all ministries and organizations under the State Council. Every time the MLR releases any important news, the editors at the central government website would add it into the news column very quickly.
"This gives our ministry a broader platform to release our information," said Mao.
In Mao's view, the opening of the central government website will help the general public better supervise the government, and help the country attain its long-pursued goal of "administration by law."