Beijing Mayor Requires Public Accessibility of Government Directives

December 16, 2004

According to a story in the Beijing News, Beijing mayor Wang Qishan has ordered that a wide range of local government rules and regulations (guifanxing wenjian) be made available to the public before they may take effect.

Provincial and local government agencies often issue binding regulations without formal notice and comment procedures, creating numerous problems. Citizens often are unaware of the existence of specific rules. Appeal of such regulations to a court is difficult under Chinese administrative law. In addition, conflicts are common between regulations issued independently by different bureaus.

Mayor Wang’s initiative to require public accessibility before regulations take effect likely represents an effort to address some of these problems. In an effort to allow the government to harmonize regulatory work, other provincial governments, such as Anhui, have instituted formal systems of centralized review of certain internal ministry directives (hongtou wenjian) to be undertaken before they are issued. The article suggests that the Beijing reforms may incorporate some of these elements as well. Other cities, such as Chongqing, have also taken steps to render public all government directives and regulations.