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Freedom of information reform in China : information flow analysis


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Xiao, W 2010 , 'Freedom of information reform in China : information flow analysis', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Most non-Chinese scholars have approached Freedom of Information (FOI) in China
as a recent, strange and intriguing phenomenon. This thesis uses an array of Chinese
sources, interviews with Chinese officials and citizens and information flow analysis
to propose a more complex and detailed understanding of the evolution of FOI in
The thesis argues that information flow, a theme to explore the gradual development
of government receptivity to FOI in an information environment through time, can be
used as a new explanatory model for FOI reform in a jurisdiction. China serves as an
example to substantiate this argument. The origins of China's FOI legislation need to
be understood within the context of improved information flow conditions resulting
from multifaceted factors, including social, political, legal and economic ones. This
improved information flow has constituted an enabling environment for the adoption
of FOI legislation.
This thesis also argues that it is necessary to reassess the widely divergent origins of
FOI reform in China. By applying information flow analysis, the thesis asserts that
social, political and legal factors should be accorded central roles in understanding
the development of FOI in China. Economic growth and anti-corruption efforts in the
process should be allocated important but secondary roles.
This thesis uses information flow analysis to find that FOI reform in China formed
part of a much longer process of increased transparency in the Chinese information
environment, which gradually shifted from the acceptance of proactive disclosure to
that of reactive disclosure. FOI thus has become a beneficiary of this gradual
transformation of the Chinese information environment. This is the reason China has
adopted a push model of FOI legislation stressing proactive disclosure of government
information, which differs from many countries that have introduced a pull version of
FOI legislation emphasising reactive disclosure through responses to access requests.
The thesis maintains that existing compliance analysis focuses heavily on reactive
disclosure, and thus is restricted in its application to China. It therefore utilises a
revised compliance analysis model that focuses on both proactive and reactive
disclosure. The revised model incorporates findings from empirical research
conducted in China, allowing a more effective and dynamic analysis of compliance
issues in China. Whilst information flow analysis in this thesis is limited in its
application to an explanation of China's FOI phenomenon, it may have wider
applicability as it is a dynamic and systematic explanatory framework for FOI.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Xiao, W
Keywords: Freedom of informationxLaw and legislation, Government information, Law reform
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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