December 07, 2007

ABA ROLI Helps Chinese Officials Implement Transparency and Disclosure Rules

December 7, 2007

From November 27 through 29, 2007, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) supported the participation of the first Chinese delegation in the International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC).  This annual conference brings together information commissioners, ombudsmen and prominent information access advocates from around the world to share experiences and strategize on how to improve access to government information.  The ultimate goal of the conference is to increase transparency and accountability in governance worldwide.

Prof. Mo Yuchuan of Renming University of China (far left) shares access to information developments in China, and implementation challenges moving forward.

China’s participation in this international forum comes at a critical time. In January 2007, the State Council adopted China’s first national regulations on access to government information.  The “Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Disclosure of Government Information” could mark a significant shift away from the presumption of nondisclosure and the tradition of secrecy.  Under the Regulations, which will go into effect on May 1, 2008, all levels of government above the county level are required to create a system for proactively disclosing information and responding to citizen requests. 

The Chinese delegation to the ICIC included Prof. Cheng Jie from Tsinghua University, Ms. Chen Mo from the Bureau of Planning and Finance of China’s State Environmental Protection Agency, Ms. Xiao Zhu from the China Institute of Industrial Relations, and Prof. Mo Yuchuan of Renmin University of China.  Prof. Mo was involved in the drafting of China’s disclosure of government information regulations.

Participation in the conference introduced the Chinese delegates to key advocates for information access from around the world, and to best practices that will inform their implementation of these new requirements in China. ABA ROLI is currently creating training materials for the civil servants who will be implementing the new information disclosure regulations, and researching effective models for implementing information disclosure requirements.