Chinese State Council Serious About Government Web Sites

T8 PRC government

The Chinese State Council just released a twenty-point Circular on Strengthening the Development of Government Information Content, which to many reads simply as a circular designed to make Chinese government websites better.

Here’s this site trying to wade through (and summarise) all the officialspeak…

  • Chinese government sites must serve a government ruled by law, is innovative, and is clean. It must improve on how content is posted, how it reacts with the population, and how public opinion is guided. Sites must publish content at a quicker pace.
  • As fundamental principles, government sites must serve the “overall situation”, regard people as key, be transparent, be more interactive, improve on innovation, and prioritise on effects.
  • Key government meetings and policies must be posted as quickly as possible. There must be more openness in how government information is published.
  • When new government policies are announced, it must be made “more readable” by giving the population a better understanding of new policies. Sites should ensure the people understand new principles; to this end, sites should use infographics and multimedia more, so to make official content more relevant to commoners.
  • Major events, including in particular emergencies, must be published as quickly as possible.
  • Interaction must be made more visible with the population. Feedback regarded as “worthy” should be responded to within 7 working days (for complex situations, this can be extended to 15 working days).
  • Improve search engine standings of government web sites. Mobile apps for smartphones and tablets should be developed. Government sites should have a presence on Weibo and WeChat. Where possible, sites should develop their own brand.
  • There should be better collaboration between government sites when key conferences, press events, business meetings or travel promotions are being held.
  • Government sites should work more with the mass media, including newspapers, magazines, as well as radio and TV stations, and Internet news sites.
  • Sites offered in foreign languages must be of a better quality, with content being generated by a qualified team. If such resources are not yet available, a government site may remain unilingual in Chinese for the moment.
  • Responsibility is made clearer: the principles are now obligations to managers and posters of content of government sites.
  • Improve quality of content posted; distinguish between key content and other information. Avoid content with issues, particularly when political errors and secrets might be involved.
  • Contents should be available both on online and offline platforms.
  • Increased management is to be implemented for outsourced information services. Quality and content are to be given particular focus.
  • The central authorities are in charge of guiding government site development for all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities; those at these tiers are in charge of government sites for their own local jurisdictions.
  • Control integration of different government sites: those serving very local audiences (such as at the sub-district or township level) should be integrated with sites at superior jurisdictions.
  • The design and content of sites should be better organised. [Ed: This is a bit like in the UK, where more and more government bodies are moving into GOV.uk.]
  • Both dedicated personnel and sufficient economic resources should be available. The quality and development of government sites should be put as a key part of government service evaluations.
  • Government leaders at all levels and ministries must be trained so that they are Web-savvy and Web-aware.

This is big also for expats, as right now, content in English is either limited, dated, or is in Chinglish. (A site that tells you that suburban Beijing districts pondering “Thick Germany knows far” isn’t serving you much when it comes to paying local taxes!)

Those who want to test their PRC officialspeak (in simplified Chinese!) are more than free to check out the full circular on gov.cn. Just be warned — this is long and can be a challenge!

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