On November 9, 2008, China announced a 4 trillion-yuan (about 585 billion U.S. dollars) economic stimulus package to boost growth and domestic demand. The package will be spent over the next two years to finance programs in 10 major areas, such as low-income housing, rural infrastructure, water, electricity, transportation, the environment, technological innovation, and rebuilding from several disasters, most notably the May 12, 2008 earthquake in Sichuan.1
On January 7, 2009, prominent Shanghai lawyer Yan Yiming [严义明] filed two applications to the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the central government’s highest economic planning agency, asking them to disclose the financial details of the four trillion RMB government stimulus package (585.5 billion U.S. dollars).2 The request to the NDRC called for the disclosure of all investment sources and recipients in the stimulus package. The request to the Ministry of Finance asked for disclosure of the central government’s financial balance for last year and its fiscal plan for 2009.3
On January 21, 2009, the Ministry of Finance denied the request on the ground that the plan details should be released only after approval of the plan by the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.4 On February 19, 2009, the NDRC replied to Yan’s request by providing information that was previously made public.5 No details of the stimulus package were disclosed.6 Yang was not satisfied. In March the NDRC promised to publish detailed expenditures of the country's stimulus package.7 Mu Hong, vice minister of the NDRC, told Xinhua that the commission would release information about the expenditures on its website and accept public enquiry.
On March 3, 2009, Yan Yiming filed a second formal request, for “administrative reconsideration [行政复议],” to release details of planned investments to be made under the government’s stimulus program. The NDRC confirmed it received Yan’s second request but has not, by late March, offered any information requested by Yan.
1. “China’s 4 Trillion Yuan Stimulus to Boost Economy, Domestic Demand,” Xinhua News Agency, November 9, 2008, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-11/09/content_10331324.htm. ^
2. “Lawyer Demands that Chinese Government Open Its Books,” Reuters, January 7, 2009, http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/07/asia/lawyer.php. ^
3. Joan Hu, “Chinese Lawyer Files Information Disclosure Request for Financial Details of 4 Trillion RMB Stimulus Package,” National Development and Reform Commission, January 12, 2009, http://www.greenlaw.org.cn/enblog/?p=333. ^
4. Chen Yongrong, “Lawyer in Battle with Ministry over Gov’t Stimulus Plan,” Xinhua News Agency, February 12, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-02/12/content_10806848.htm; “Fagaiwei ju pilou siwanyi touzi xijie Shanghai lüshi shenqing fuyi” [发改委拒披露4万亿投资细节上海律师申请复议], Sina News, March 3, 2009, http://finance.sina.com.cn/g/20090303/13125924425.shtml. ^
5. “Fagaiwei ju pilou siwanyi touzi xijie Shanghai lüshi shenqing fuyi” [发改委拒披露4万亿投资细节上海律师申请复议], Sina News, March 3, 2009, http://finance.sina.com.cn/g/20090303/13125924425.shtml. ^
6. “Yan Yiming shenqingfuyi zai cu ‘si wan yi’ xinxi gongkai” [严义明申请复议再促“4万亿”信息公开], Caijing [财经], March 3, 2009, http://www.caijing.com.cn/2009-03-03/110110946.html. ^
7.Ma Shukun and Chen Yongrong, “Gov’t Yields to Public Pressure to Publicize Stimulus Package Details,” Xinhua News Agency, March 2, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/02/content_10929485.htm. ^