The Chinese government will step up efforts to improve government services via Internet-Plus and plans to set a nationwide internet-based government service system by the end of 2020, according to a new guideline by the State Council.
The new guideline was approved at the State Council executive meeting on Sept 14 chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
Internet Plus, proposed by Premier Li, refers to the application of the internet and other information technology in conventional industries, fostering new industries and business development in China.
“We are now living in an age of internet. Using internet tools to facilitate public services is an important step in accelerating governance reform, since internet is the fastest and most convenient way for the government to interact with and provide services for the public,” he said.
The idea of improving government services and information transparency via Internet Plus was mentioned in Premier Li’s government work report this March. Streamlining government functions remains high on the government’s agenda since 2013, because it can help unleash economic and social potential, especially when entrepreneurship and mass innovation is the key to China’s structural reform. It is also important for changing government functions, public information sharing, and improving public services.
“The internet will not only provide people with more accessible public services, but will also help the government to improve its administration,” Premier Li said.
Although there have been great improvements in using the internet platform to facilitate public services, there is still room for improvement across the country. The new guideline is drafted based on field research across several provinces, mostly at their administrative centers and agricultural and taxation authorities.
It was noticed that internet-based governance is still unevenly developed across different regions. Lack of government information sharing, regulation inconsistency as well as limited online public services are some of the most common problems, while some regions have barely started at all.
The Premier urges governments at all levels to attach great importance to internet platform development and administration.
“The government must give prompt responses to people’s concerns, and those who fail to do so fail in their obligations,” he said.
The new guideline sets the goal that by the end of 2017, both central and regional departments will have established an open and integrated internet platform. It also plans to put in place a nationwide system of “Internet Plus Government Services System” by the end of 2020.
A series of measures will be adopted.
First, government should set out a clear list of functions that can be delivered online. More innovation is required in the internet-based public service system. Websites for departments at all levels need to be improved with better information sharing. And governments should not require any information that can be uploaded or verified online to be provided in person.
Second, government portals will serve as the basis for integration of government services as well as online services, with help from social investment and third-party platforms.
Third, more comprehensive regulation for government information transparency is needed while eliminating outdated ones.
Fourth, online government service platform should be converged with local administrative centers, and they are encouraged to use third-party platforms as well as social investment to improve their internet-based services.
The guideline calls for wider access to internet facilities, such as optical fiber and 4g facilities. Training in how to use the Internet Plus model to improve government service efficiency will also be provided to government workers.
“Internet use is so widespread nowadays that the government and the public need to be on the same page, or the government’s credibility will be at stake,” Premier Li said.
Finally, the Premier stressed that information safety and internet security must be better protected.