BEIJING, April 26 (Agencies): China is looking to expedite the building of a digital government to achieve greater efficiency in public service delivery and modernize the country’s governance system and capacity.
The central authorities have put their foot on the accelerator as the guidelines on building a digital government was adopted at a meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform.
President Xi Jinping chaired the meeting on April 19 and called for extensively applying digital technologies to government management and services and enabling the government to function in a more digital and smarter way, thus offering solid support for modernizing China’s system and capacity for governance.
The ultimate goal of building a digital government is meeting people’s aspirations for a better life, a statement of the commission says, describing the Chinese government’s prospective digital service system as “universal, accessible, smart, convenient, equitable and inclusive,” through which the public can reduce the number of visits they make to government departments.
“The aim of building a digital government is to deliver better services to citizens and businesses, which highlights the people-centered governance philosophy of the Communist Party of China (CPC),” said Ma Liang, professor at the School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University of China.
As early as 2000 when Xi worked as governor of east China’s Fujian Province, he made a series of arrangements to build a digital Fujian, drafting the blueprint for the province’s digitalization work.
Since being elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in 2012, Xi has stressed the importance of developing digital technologies on various occasions.
Under Xi’s leadership, China has been making greater digital advances over the past decade. From telemedicine to telework, and from virtual courts to virtual education, many digital innovations have been rolled out at an unprecedented speed.
Amid the digitization drive, numerous provinces and municipalities have established one-stop websites that merge public services of all government departments, provide a single portal for individuals and companies, and significantly streamline application and approval procedures.
Thanks to its progress, China was ranked 45th among 193 countries in the United Nations E-Government Survey 2020, up 20 spots from 2018.
With its continuously streamlined administration and upgraded services, China has won acclaim for its improved business environment. The World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 ranked China 31st globally in the ease of doing business rankings, a remarkable improvement from its ranking of 91st in 2012.
In the country’s latest step to go digital, governments at various levels are expected to embrace a massive reform. As the commission pointed out, digitalization will be given full play in supporting the government in the spheres of economic adjustment, market supervision, social management, public services and ecological conservation and environmental protection.
One emphasis of the move is on using data and digital technologies to foster new forms of governing that will lead to more rational decision-making and greater efficiency.
Digital technologies will be used to facilitate government decision-making and improve the quality of dynamic monitoring, prediction and early warning based on high-frequency big data, according to the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.
Another benefit of developing a digital government lies in the fact that a government with digital know-how serves as a strong foundation for the growth of a sustainable digital economy, which represents the future direction of global development.
Zhang Jun, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that the interaction and sharing of government data can effectively drive the innovative application and cross-integration of digital technologies, promoting the development of the digital economy.
Looking into the future, China’s e-government network will be improved, and digital services will be applied widely so that people will have richer and more diverse digital lives and enjoy a growing sense of fulfillment.