A State Council report shows that government services are still
delivered mainly in person or on paper, despite the mushrooming
number of government websites in recent years.
The findings obtained after a three-month study indicate that only
5.2 percent of China's government websites are frequently used.
Nearly half of the 11,764 sites are simply one-way mirrors, the
State Council Informatization Office said in its report, and more
interaction is badly needed.
State Council official who wished to remain anonymous said that by
the end of this year, central government departments will deliver
documents and meeting notes through the web. A long-awaited central
government portal will be launched this year.
China had approximately 600,000 approved websites by the end of
2003, up 60.3 percent from 2002, said the report on Internet
resources in China, which was produced by the China Internet
Network Information Center (CNNIC).
However, about 90 percent of the websites are in the more developed
provinces, showing a growing gap between rich regions and less
developed regions, the report said.
Beijing, south China's Guangdong Province, east China's Zhejiang
Province and Shanghai are the top four for the number of websites,
accounting for 56.8 percent of the total.
western China, however, many government officials face cyber
Wang Gang, a 30-year-old assistant to a county head in Sichuan
Province, said his day-to-day business has always been done
face-to-face or on paper.
have no basic knowledge of the Internet. I don't have e-mail," Wang
told China Daily when asked to conduct an online interview this
The report also indicated that only 14.8 percent of the Chinese
government websites have English pages and just 3.0 percent include
Japanese. The lack of content in foreign languages has also brought
complaints from foreigners.
Canadian businessman Mark Justine said there is no English version
in some websites of cabinet departments, not to mention agencies at
provincial or local levels.
"That makes it difficult for me to read them," said Justine.
But some cities are leading the way. Northeast China's coastal city
of Dalian has set up Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean versions
of its government website.
Zhao Xiaofan, director of the State Council Informatization Office,
said the Internet in China has developed rapidly despite its late
introduction. As recently as the early 1990s, "Internet" was still
an alien word to the public.
Zhao said the e-government initiative would promote democracy by
providing residents with more digital connections such as e-mail,
and simplifying election procedures by, for example, allowing
"They can also make administrative work more transparent and
efficient by networking government departments and introducing
Intranets and so on," said Zhao.
said the Chinese government has shown great enthusiasm for
information technology as part of the country's modernization
The government has set ambitious goals for Internet usage and IT
development in its 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005).
the end of 2005, China should have a broadband network that
combines Internet, telephone lines and cable networks. The number
of Internet users is expected to reach 150 million, or more than 11
percent of the population.
(China Daily April 5, 2004)