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The Building and Development of China’s National People’s Congress Website
Posted: July-21-2016Adjust font size:

Speech by Dou Shuhua at World e-Parliament Conference in Valparaiso, Chile, 2016


China's National People's Congress (NPC) website is a portal of the NPC Standing Committee. The website was first started in February 2004 and has been developing for 12 years. It now has more than 30 major columns including "Importance Notices", "Legislation Work", "Oversight Work" and "Representation Work". There are 29 sub-sites of NPC departments and one English-version website. More than 400 special topics are covered in the NPC website. It has forged a layout which combines five major modules of news, services, materials, special topics and sub-sites. There are more than 100 articles updated and around 5 million hits made on a daily basis. The NPC website is gaining more attention form the society, and has become an important platform to demonstrate the NPC system and its daily work as shown in the following points.

First, expand data openness to increase the transparency of the NPC's Work. The Chinese people democratically elect NPC deputies who represent them and are supervised by them. In order to further guarantee people's right as masters of the country, and protect their right to know and to supervise, the NPC has tried hard to expand information openness through building well its website, so as to increase the transparency of its work and to better perform its powers and functions according to law.

Releasing authoritative news is a major duty of the NPC website and an important part of the information openness. The NPC website releases exclusive and authoritative information through the columns of "Important Notices", "Legislation Work", "Oversight Work" and others. Such information falls into three categories:the first category is work plans, including outlines of the NPC Standing Committee's work, legislation work plans, oversight work plans, etc. The second category is meeting documents and speeches, including statements on draft laws deliberated at the annual NPC sessions and Standing Committee meetings, reports on deliberation results, reports on revisions, multiple resolutions, decisions, announcements, personnel appointments and removals, speeches delivered by Standing Committee leaders, etc. The third category is records of deliberations made by deputies and Standing Committee members. The public can get the most detailed, timely and accurate information by just logging in the NPC website.

Second, launch the opinion-soliciting platform on draft laws to promote democratic and scientific legislation. Legislation is a major power of China's NPC and its Standing Committee. It is a fundamental requirement for the NPC to achieve scientific and democratic legislation, improve the quality of legislation and make every piece of legislation comply with the constitution, reflect people's will and win people’s support. The NPC Standing committee encourages citizens to participate in legislation by conducting regular legislation symposiums, hearings and research. In addition to these traditional ways, in July 2005, the NPC website made the innovation to start up the opinion-soliciting platform on draft laws through which opinions on draft Property Law were first collected. In April 2008, the NPC Standing Committee Chairman's meeting decided that all draft laws which would be submitted for the Standing Committee's deliberation should be first published on the NPC website for soliciting public opinions. Form July 2012, scripts of the second reading on draft laws should also solicit online opinions. In 2015, the Standing Committee formulated the Regulations on Publishing Draft Laws for Soliciting Public Opinions, which clearly stipulates that scripts of the first reading on draft laws should be released to the public in a timely manner. The period for opinion-collecting is 30 days. After that the NPC website will also inform the public of how these opinions are dealt with. There is already in place a complete set of work procedures and now soliciting opinions on draft laws has become a quite normal part of the NPC's work. By June 2016, the NPC website has collected pubic opinions on 92 draft laws. In 2012 when Draft Amendment to the Labor Contract Law was released for public opinions, 560 000 pieces of opinions were offered by more than 130 000 people. In 2015 the Draft Anti-domestic Violence Law collected over 40 000 pieces of opinions. Many of these opinions were adopted when formulating or amending laws. The online opinion-soliciting platform has been playing a more and more important role in hearing people's voice, pooling people's wisdom and reflecting people's will.

Third, tap into the merits of online platforms to improve the services for deputies to better perform their duties. Serving deputies and the public through the internet is an important goal of e-NPC. The NPC deputies are members of the organ of state power. Therefore, it is a basic work of the NPC to respect deputies' dominant position and help them perform their duties. Online platforms providing services to deputies have been established to guarantee law-based performance of duties by deputies. In 2007 the NPC website set up a column of "Services for Deputies" which is accessible by ID and password. This column contains information such as topics of the NPC annual sessions and Standing Committee meetings, learning and training materials for deputies, the NPC online library, etc.. All relevant meeting documents, brief reports and other materials needed by deputies can be found here. During the NPC annual sessions, cooperation is also made with the National Bureau of Statistics, the National Information Center, the National Library and others in creating joint columns so as to provide authoritative statistical, economic and cultural information to deputies. This column is gaining more attention and support form more deputies, and is playing an important role in guaranteeing deputies' right to know and improving services for deputies.

Fourth, use multiple internet tools to provide better services to the NPC meetings. The biggest advantage of the internet over other information transmission means is that it has various tools at disposal and is quite fast and convenient. The internet combines all the features of print media, radio stations and TV stations, which enables it to show news and events in a multi-dimensional way. The NPC website uses various internet tools including pictures and texts, live video, online interviews and meeting-related service management to provide quality services to the NPC meetings.

As for pictures and texts as well as live video, in 2005, the NPC website released live pictures and texts on the press conference of the Property Law. After that, live pictures and texts were used in various kinds of meetings including the NPC sessions, delegation meetings, inquires on special topics, press conferences, etc. In 2016, the website began to adopt live video on many occasions. Since then, 297 meetings have been broadcast live in an authentic and timely way to improve the public's participation in these events.

As for online interviews, in 2006 the NPC website set up an online interview column in an attempt to conduct online interviews jointly with other websites. In 2014 the website established its own online interview room, and independently schemed the online interview on the Food Safety Law with more than 300 questions posed and 250 000 hits made. Netizens are able to raise questions through the NPC website, express their opinions on legislation, oversight and other issues, and exchange views with legislators, experts and scholars. Many questions are well answered and consensus reached through such new channels for citizens to take part in the NPC's work.

As for meeting-related service management, in order to provide better services for the NPC meetings, in 2007 the NPC website put in place an online registration system for journalists who covered the NPC annual sessions, and a management system for journalists to make interviews. In 2013, the website opened a new column of "Services for Journalists", providing various materials including deputies' proposals, brief reports on the NPC annual sessions, lists of deputies, etc. , so as to assist journalists in making accurate and timely reports on the NPC sessions.

Fifth, establish database and improve material compilation to share NPC-related information . The NPC homes an abundant information resource with its great deal of data and information on legislation, oversight and others. How to explore this resource to facilitate the acquisition and use of relevant information by the public is what the NPC has been pursuing in recent years. Through establishing the database of China's laws and regulations and compiling related materials, the NPC website has been sharing its information with the whole society.

As for the database of China's laws and regulations, it was established in 2004 and remains one of the databases with the most abundant and authoritative legislation information. It contains almost 400 000 pieces of laws, regulations and regulatory documents, among which 62 000 have been made public. This database adopts modern information technology to achieve centralized storage of relevant laws and documents so as to share information with multiple users. It provides legal reference for drafting, arguing and deliberating laws and to deputies, experts, scholars and the broad public.

As for material compilation, the website collects and compiles relevant documentation and other materials to enrich its information resource. The column of "Standing Committee Communiques" on the website gathers all such communiques since 1957. The column of "Standing Committee Special Lectures" collects all such lectures since the first one delivered by the 9th NPC Standing Committee. Other columns including "NPC Literatures", "NPC Knowledge", "NPC History", "Interpretation of New Laws" and "Q&A" all provide access to full and comprehensive information about the NPC.

Six, create the English-version website to strengthen the exchange and communication with the international society. In order to promote the NPC in the international arena and increase its communication and relations with other parliaments, the English-version NPC website was launched in 2006. Its style and layout takes into full account the reading habits of people form different countries. In addition to columns on leaders' activities, legislation, oversight, parliamentary exchanges and personnel appointment and removal, there are also special topics and English database of laws and regulations. So far 38 English special topics have been made concerning the NPC annual sessions, overseas visits, international conferences and so on. The English website has become an important platform for people of other countries to learn about China's laws. Over the past decade since its creation, the number of hits has been steadily increasing, making the English website an indispensable platform to increase the NPC's transparency toward the outside world and demonstrate the image of China's parliament.

With more than a decade of exploration and efforts, the NPC website has been universally recognized as the "most influential political website in China". In order to reach people's expectation for more participation in democracy and politics, and to meet the new requirements for the NPC's work to be more open, standardized and information-oriented, the NPC website will firmly upholds the rule of law, follows the overwhelming trend of internet, and uses advanced digital and information technology to build an integrated online service platform and an effective information-sharing system so as to become a world-class official website.

Source: Lydia
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