Chinese Agencies Disclose Spending on Travel

29 July 2011

Chinese government departments have largely complied with a requirement to disclose how much was spent on overseas trips, receptions and vehicles in 2010, according to reports in the Chinese state and commercial media.

Despite a deadline of June 30 to comply with a Cabinet order, by July 7 only three out of the 98 central government agencies had published the so-called “three publics” budgets, according to an article in China Digital Times by Yiyi Lan, an expert on Chinese civil society and an associate fellow at the U.K.-based Chatham House.

But the pace of disclosure picked up, according to Zhu Na in Economic Observer. Na reported July 26: 

Over the past three weeks, headlines in both the state and commercial press have been tracking the slow yet gradual release of details about how much various offices, ministries, departments, organizations and institutions that operate under the authority of China’s State Council spent on overseas trips, receptions and vehicles in 2010.

Headlines like “90% of Central Government Departments Yet to Release Details of Public Spending,” which also featured prominently on China’s most popular web portals, began to appear in mid-July, as only a few of the 98 institutions that operate under the authority of the State Council had bothered to released details of their spending on these three items, in direct contradiction of a State Council order in early May requiring each of them to reveal such spending before the end of June this year.

Over the following weeks, more and more institutions revealed their spending online, many of them choosing to announce details late on Friday evening (see image below).

Gradually, the percentage of departments that had revealed their spending on what the government and media have taken to calling the ”?? s?n g?ng” literally the “three publics,” began to increase and according to the People’s Daily Online, as of 5pm on Jul 22, 70 of the 98 official institutions had published details of how much they spent on these items.

Over the weekend another 6 departments revealed their spending, including a rather ill-timed announcement from the Ministry of Railways late on Saturday evening and the People’s Bank of China. On Monday, 5 more departments, including the Ministry of Public Security, revealed their spending.

Following the announcement of spending by the State Council Three Gorges Project Construction Committee Executive Office and the Ministry of Justice earlier today, as of 5pm on Jul 26, a total of 86 institutions have published their “san gong” figures

The remaining 12 central government institutions, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry State Security are still dragging their feet.

Na’s report also discusses other disclosures about spending by agencies.

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