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April 1, 2009

1. Who is obliged to disclose government information?

There are three types of agencies that are duty-bound to disclose government information. They are:

  • Administrative organs;
  • Organizations assuming the function of administering public affairs; and
  • Public enterprises and institutions.

2. How can a person have access to government information?

Entities that have the obligation to disclose government information are required to publicize government information in government gazettes, websites, press releases, or through various forms of mass media on their own initiative. For information that is not in the public domain, citizens may apply to the entity that has possession of the relevant information for disclosure.

3. What kind of information should an administrative organ release on its own initiative?

An administrative organ should disclose on its own initiative government information that satisfies any of the following basic requirements:

  • Information that involves the vital interests of citizens, legal persons, or other organizations;
  • Information that needs to be extensively known or participated in by the general public;
  • Information that shows the structure, function, and working procedures of, and other matters relating to, the relevant administrative organ; and
  • Other information that should be disclosed by the relevant administrative organ on its own initiative according to laws, regulations, and relevant state provisions.

4. Who is eligible for applying for disclosure of government information and what are the restrictions on application?

Any citizen, legal person, or organization can apply for government information disclosure to the organs that are in possession of the information requested to be disclosed. Normally, applicants may only apply for disclosure of information that relates to their special needs for production, livelihood activities, or scientific research. Applications that fail to satisfy this requirement may be rejected.

5. What is the procedure for applying for government information disclosure?

Application for government information disclosure should be made in writing (including digital and electronic forms). Where it is difficult for the applicant to apply in writing, he or she may apply orally, and the administrative organ accepting the oral application should fill in an application form for the applicant.

An application for government information disclosure should include the following content:

  • The name and contact details of the applicant;
  • The particulars of the government information requested to be disclosed; and
  • The format in which the requested government information is to be supplied.

6. How long does it take for the government to disclose requested information?
When a piece of information should be disclosed by an administrative organ on its own initiative, the relevant organ has to disclose the information within twenty working days from the day that the information is formed or amended.

For information requested through application, an administrative organ is required to give an immediate reply if applicable. Otherwise, it should generally give a reply within fifteen working days after receiving the application.

7. Does an application incur any cost?

An administrative organ may only collect fees for the costs incurred in providing the requested information to the applicant, such as the costs of retrieving, duplicating, and posting the relevant information. The standards for fees collected are set by the department of the State Council in charge of pricing, in consultation with the department of the State Council in charge of financial affairs. No administrative organ may provide government information in the form of profitable service through any other organization or individual.

8. Can an applicant request an administrative organ to correct inaccurate government information?

Applicants have the right to request administrative organs to correct inaccurate government information that is related to them on condition that they have evidence to prove the inaccuracy of the information.

If the administrative organ concerned does not have the authority to make the correction, the case should be transferred to the administrative organ that does have such authority, and the applicant should be so informed.

9. Can an administrative organ refuse to provide information requested?

An administrative organ may refuse to disclose government information on the grounds of state secrets, commercial secrets, or involvement of privacy of a third party.

10. Are there any legal remedies for non-disclosure of government information?

If citizens, legal persons, or other organizations believe that an administrative organ has failed to fulfill its legal obligations in disclosing necessary government information according to law, they may file a complaint to the administrative organ at the next higher level, the supervisory organ or the department in charge of open government information.

If citizens, legal persons or other organizations believe that, in implementing the work of open government information, a specific administrative action of an administrative organ has infringed their lawful rights and interests, they may apply for administrative reconsideration or file an administrative lawsuit in court directly.

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