Open Government and Transparent Policy: China's Experience with SARS

Ling Lan


This article explores the close link between information exposure and good governance as well as high government institutional performance in light of a special case study of how the Guangdong provincial government and China’s central government responded to the outburst of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in November 2002. It analyzes the possible reasons behind the initial misinformation on the crisis. Also, it analyzes the lessons the Chinese government learned from the event and the mutative character of government behavior toward information exposure after this short SARS episode. In this regard it focuses on several pioneering programs leading to more open government and transparent policy, such as in Guangdong and Shanghai, and emphases the significant importance of public participating for sound policymaking and democratic governance in the country.

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