Assessing China's E-government and Its Impact on Government and Citizen Relationship

Assessing China's E-government and Its Impact on Government and Citizen Relationship

Xia Li Lollar (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, USA)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-931-6.ch020
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Abstract

The goal of this chapter is to examine the e-government development in China and its political impact on the communist countries’ transition to democracy by transforming relations between the government and citizens. It is widely accepted that e-government can help to encourage government transparency, expand the information flow, promote work efficiency and increase citizens’ political participation. This may be true in open democracies, yet there is little scholarly support for this conventional wisdom applied in authoritarian societies. This chapter will test hypotheses that e-government can improve the quality of government by enhancing citizens’ accessibility to information and service, increasing citizens’ political participation and promoting citizen outreach of the Chinese government. The chapter will indicate that e-government is transforming relations between citizens and the Chinese government and show how it is playing an essential role in China’s incremental process of democratization.
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Literature Review

Scholars have been debating the role of e-government in e-democracy since the new technology was developed. Tracy Western (2000) delightfully points out “the world is rapidly going digital. This new communications technology will not just affect democracy, it will transform it. Because democracy is an interactive form of government, the revolution in interactive communications will inevitably have its greatest effect on the most important ‘interactive institution’-the government itself ” (p.218). Watson and Mundy (2001) identify e-government and e-politics as elements of e-democracy. They argue that democracy requires an informed citizenry and that e-government informs citizens about their public officials and how to obtain access to them. E-government allows an unimpeded flow of information between citizens and government officials. Lenihan (2002) states that e-government is a move from a more closed to a more open system. He notes that e-government is likely to produce a wide range of new ways to connect government officials with organizations and individuals usually outside their organizational boundaries. This is changing the way information enters and flows around the political system and introducing influences into decision making.

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