Despite Beijing's commitment to greater openness and accountability on the issue of pollution, and in the face of mounting demands from the public, little headway has been made on government transparency, particularly at local levels.
A recent study by the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs and the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council showed local authorities have done a poor job of responding to complaints about pollution and environmental damage.
Yang Sujuan, an associate professor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, said local governments still viewed transparency as a threat to their obsession with rapid growth and stability as well as to their power. He said they remained reluctant to take meaningful steps to give the public a voice.
Analysts say the Longjiang toxic spill underlines a culture of government secrecy that continues to undermine Beijing's credibility and deepen a simmering distrust.