Guangdong officials to try out netizens' plans

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 July, 2009, 12:00am

In a sign of the growing clout of mainland netizens, the Guangdong government has for the first time agreed to put their suggestions to the test.

At a meeting earlier this week focusing on questions raised by internet users, officials agreed to act on 17 proposals and sent them to the appropriate provincial departments, the Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday.

The proposals were mainly focused on five areas: the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, environmental protection, road construction, treatment of teachers and graduate employment.

A Foshan netizen, identified by his online ID 'Shunde Priest', said officials embraced his idea of upgrading several road construction projects. 'The internet is the most direct and efficient way to communicate with officials,' he said.

Ahead of last year's Spring Festival, Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang and governor Huang Huahua for the first time sent an online holiday greeting to netizens. Mr Wang held a panel last year with netizens from Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Foshan, discussing public affairs and encouraging people to send in opinions. The report said more than 100,000 netizens had posted comments on Mr Wang's message board since the meeting, and officials had been deputised to read the opinions and report them. Jin Xinyi, a Shenzhen blogger who was on the panel, said it was just one step in Mr Wang's plan to establish an online communication system, which had been in the works since 2007.

'Online opinion is the most direct and most true,' Mr Jin said. 'The policymakers will also benefit from being told the truth.'

Mr Jin, also an analyst familiar with local public affairs, said after the panel last year that he thought the government would carry out some of their suggestions, but because of procedure more time was required.

Though the idea of communicating with netizens has spread since President Hu Jintao's online chat in June last year, a Guangzhou-based internet analyst said it had not become a popular trend among mainland officials.

'The Guangdong case is unique. Other provinces might not pay similar attention to the internet,' he said.

Official statistics showed that Guangdong had more than 45 million netizens by the end of last year.