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Court: Data disclosure lawsuits a lesson for govt agencies

By CAO YIN | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-12-07 18:09

Local governments in China have become more transparent thanks to a policy that allows citizens to sue them for failing to release information, a senior Beijing court official said on Thursday.

A new report shows the capital's No 1 Intermediate People's Court accepted 2,123 administrative cases from litigants demanding the disclosure of data between May 2009 and May this year.

Half involved ministries or agencies directly under the State Council, and most appeals centered on information about land expropriation, demolitions, food, medicine and finance.

A national regulation issued in 2007 requires all government departments to share administrative information with the public upon request. Those who refuse can be sued in any court nationwide.

"Since that policy was introduced, cases against government departments, asking them to make their work more transparent, have boomed," said Ma Lina, vice-president the intermediate court.

The number of accepted cases reached almost 600 last year, although Ma said she expects to see a decline in appeals in 2017.

"As litigants have protected their rights to access information, the behavior of governments has been regulated," she added. "Departments have developed a better understanding of the rules on releasing information, learning what should be disclosed and how."

Wu Zaicun, president of the court, agreed. "In the past, litigants complained it was hard to sue the government, let alone win," he said. "Now, more residents have solved conflicts with authorities in a legal way, which shows the regulation has been a success."

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