The Australian has an article on China’s just enacted Information Disclosure Act, entitled Chinese FOI act tied by red tape. The purpose of this new Act is to improve governance, not to grant citizens any sort of right to know:
Despite this, Dr Cheng Jie [a constitutional law professor at Qinghua University in Beijing] believes the new disclosure regulation, promulgated by China’s State Council, or cabinet, and eight years in the making, does mark incremental progress in accountability. The main application, she says, will be for individuals seeking information about issues such as compensation claims from the Chinese Government.
She says it is not a concession to the right to know, which would require legislation by the National People’s Congress or parliament.
It amounts, she says, to a concession instead to the need for better governance, and for more participation by individual citizens in the Government’s decision-making processes.
Dr Cheng says it is in the nature of a “self-revelation” initiative from the Government, and that a non-government organisation or journalist pressing this button too hard risks imperiling their relationship with the Government.
These government disclosure requirements have been in effect since 2004 in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan as part of a pilot program and the article discusses how that pilot program has helped a bit, but certainly less than hoped.