A Critical Review of the
Development of Chinese e-Government
Vol. 3, No. 7
"All around the world e-government
is revolutionizing our understanding of how government works
and the quality of what it can deliver to people. This is happening
because the Internet has changed the way organizations, communities
and individuals learn, work and interact."
In the wake of globalization,
more and more governments, regardless of their political systems,
have come to realize the necessity and importance of modernization
in order to meet increasing requirements of global competitiveness.
Electronic government ("e-government") is one of the
modernization efforts undertaken by many countries. This article
will examine the Chinese version of e-government by addressing
three aspects. First: What is the Chinese understanding of e-government?
Second: What has the Chinese government done to set up a digitalized
government? Third: How to assess China's e-government?
1. The Chinese Understanding of
is difficult to find a universal definition of "e-government,"
since the content of an e-government is closely related to the
political system of different countries. However, there is a
certain consensus among Western democracies as to the core elements
of an e-government. The debate over this issue in the USA and
Great Britain have defined the functions of e-government
to include at least the following:
to promote democratic participation by providing citizens with
more digital connections, such as e-mail, and simplifying the
procedure of democratic elections by, for example, e-voting.
to deliver government services to the citizens without any restriction
of time and space by bringing governmental information online.
c. to make administrative work more transparent and efficient
by networking government departments and introducing intranets
and so on.
d. to boost the e-economy, especially government-to-business
("G to B"), government-to-business-to-customer ("G
to B to C") or government-to-customer ("G to C"),
by networking government agencies with non-governmental organizations
Obviously, the first point is
emphasized the most in Western countries, where there is already
an institutionalized democracy. Even in those countries e-voting
still remains an ideal. Nevertheless, bar that first point,
this definition of e-government fits well with the Chinese understanding
1.1. The Driving Force Behind
the "Leap-Frog Development"
The Chinese leadership has shown
great enthusiasm for the information technology as part of their
zeal for modernization. Curiously enough, this enthusiasm was
inspired not by Marxist mentors but by an American futurist,
Albert Toffler. As early as the 1980's, Toffler's work had already
become standard reading for the politburo. In his book The
Third Wave, Toffler takes the view that some developing countries
need not repeat the development process of the industrial countries.
Instead, developing countries can catch up by massive introduction
of high tech, especially information technology. Based on this
notion, Deng Xiaoping emphasized repeatedly "telecommunication
is the starting point of economic development". His
successor Jiang Zemin, once the minister of electronics industry,
has shown even more interest in this area. In an interview with
TIME Magazine in 1998, Jiang Zemin revealed that he had a PC
at his Zhongnanhai home and used it to log onto foreign websites.
Top officials insist that he is committed to a wired China,
fully aware that the country's future depends on economic growth,
which in turn relies on modern technology. Two significant
plans drawn up during Deng's and Jiang's era, the "863
Plan" and the "909 Project", indicate the
ambition of the Chinese leadership in creating China's own IT
There are two trends in the development
of China's IT. First, China's leadership is firmly convinced
that an economic leap-frog can be achieved through the development
of IT -indeed, it overemphasizes the impact of IT on the economy.
Secondly, China's development strategy is very much American
influenced. Regarding the e-government as an integrated part
of the new economy, the Chinese government's positive attitude
toward IT played a significant role in shaping the concept of
e-government. China hoped that computerizing and networking
the administration would provide a new impetus to China's economy,
especially in the field of e-commerce. This optimism is often
expressed in speeches made by top leaders at various conferences
on e-government. Furthermore, the special status of the e-economy
within the conception of e-government is revealed by the following
Shandong provincial government's list of the functions of e-government:
"The use of e-government
can be displayed in the following points: 1) e-commerce; 2)
e-procurement; 3) e-payment for social welfare recipients and
the respective government departments; 4) e-communication between
the government departments; 5) databases; 6) e-documents; 7)
e-taxation; 8) digital confirmation of personal identity cards."
1.2 Strengthening Surveillance
and Governability of the Central Government
The preference for e-economy and
IT in creating an e-government does not imply that the Chinese
government is unaware of the socio-political implications of
e-government. On the contrary, the emergence of e-government
provides the government with more possibilities to strengthen
their control over public servants. In his book The Nation-State
and Violence, Anthony Giddens highlights the importance of surveillance
(in terms of control over public servants and their work) in
the modern bureaucracy, which is warranted through efficient
information flow to the authorities. Chinese leadership
needs such surveillance more than ever. The ambiguity of policies
and laws and the existence of many under-regulated market niches
have nourished massive graft and embezzlement. The Chinese authorities
recognize that corruption threatens to undermine the government's
legitimacy. Surveillance thus becomes important not only to
counteract the effects of decentralization of power, but also
to cut back the spreading graft and inefficiency at ministerial
as well as at local administrative levels.
In addition, the central government
shows more and more interest in setting up a digitalized public
procurement system. Currently, China does not have a law of
public procurement. Many of G to G, B to G and G to B activities
are conducted through a black box process. Each year, about
20% of China's GDP (about 700 billion RMB) are spent on purchasing
goods for administrative purposes. Sound public procurement
system would ensure a higher degree of transparency, thus to
contain nepotism and corruption, at least to a tolerable scale.
1.3 Party Guidance through Digital
Since the fall of the Eastern
European communist regimes, ensuring political stability has
been particularly important to the Chinese government. The government
believes that this task demands a great control of information
flows. It is vital to let the citizens know what it wants them
to know and not let them know anything that may damage the image
of the government or arouse social troubles. On the other hand,
both the leadership and the bureaucracy need to be well informed
of any problems that may damage the state's image and control.
These two somewhat contradictory goals have become one of the
main tasks for Chinese e-government.
Internet has special features
in comparison to the conventional media. The Chinese leadership
knows that the Internet as a global network may become a great
political threat to a regime, and China is not ready to be conquered
in this "battle field without bloodshed" (Jiang Zemin).
The government hopes to use the internet to regain the terrain
lost by the traditional propaganda system that was weakened
in the reform period. The Chinese government decided in mid-2000
to invest 1 billion RMB to set up 5 new Internet-based information
agencies, which would have their own mega-news websites. These
mega-news portals are www.peopledaily.com
(People's Daily), www.xinhua.com
(Xinghua News Agency), www.cctv.com
(China Central Television), www.chinadaily.com.cn
(China Daily) and www.cnnic.cn (China
Internet Network Information Center). As of May 2001, the
number of mega-news portals supported by the central government
has increased to 12.
Strictly speaking, not all the
aforementioned portals are a part of the e-government. But they
are funded by the government and are regarded by people as a
kind of e-government. Telecom operators have to subsidize these
unprofitable mega-news services. In accordance with a directive
of the Propaganda Department of the CCP, all other websites
run by provincial or private providers are required to follow
the style and the content of these "information websites"
and are not authorized to release independently any politically
This practice of the central government
has also been adopted by local governments. On 18 May 2001,
a news portal was established in the city of Ningbo, called
"Zhongguo Ningbo Wang" (China-Ningbo-Web). The main
organs running this portal are the municipal party propaganda
department and the newspaper "Ningbo Daily". The importance
of "agenda-setting" on such an official website was
emphasized in the speech made by the mayor at the opening ceremony:
"(The China-Ningbo-Web) should
conduct public opinion into right-minded channels. It should
present a good image of Ningbo toward the outside world... It
will enable us to propagandize the principle and policy of the
Party and to release information on Ningbo about various facets
such as economy and social development. At the same time it
will ensure that we can inform the world more timely and more
exactly about Ningbo."
In short, the view that agenda-setting
for all other media should become an inseparable part of officially
run websites has become one of the features of Chinese understanding
of the e-government.
2. Undertakings of the Chinese
Government in Constructing an E-government
Building up a sound e-government
is a tremendous project both technically and politically. The
quality of an e-government depends very much on the government's
own information policy, the number of users and their educational
level and motivation. Up to now, no country has successfully
met all the requirements necessary for an ideal form of the
e-government. China is far from the standard set by the existing
"well-performing" e-governments of certain countries
and regions like the USA, Singapore and Taiwan, but it is important
to analyze its rapid development.
2.1. Infrastructure and Internet
The Internet was introduced to China much later than to other
industrial nations. Even in the early 1990s the "Internet"
was still an alien word to the general populace. Starting from
the mid to late 1990s China poured huge amounts of resources
into building up a modern telecommunications network.
Figures from Ministry for Information
Industry (MII) and the China Internet Network Information Center
(CNNIC) reveal an astounding growth in the use of phones and
mobile phones, particularly between 1999 and 2001. The number
of telephone subscribers grew from 10 million in 1995 to 20
million in 2002, while the number of mobile phone subscribers
has reached 18 million by the end of July 2002. Alongside with
rapid development of telecommunication infrastructure and IT,
the number of Internet users has increased significantly, jumping
from just 62,000 in 1997 to 41 million in 2002.  In addition,
China had more than 100 million cable TV subscribers. All of
these developments have laid a solid foundation for the realization
of the "information society", at least in the urban
2.2. Seventeen Golden Projects
The first step of Chinese e-government
was made in December 1993 when the State Council formed a high-level
leading group, known as the Joint Committee of National Economic
Informatization. The three officially mandated goals clarify
the direction and future progression of the so-called "Golden
" To build a national information highway as a path to
modernization and economic development;
" To drive the development of information technology in
" To unify the country by tying the center to the provinces
and by allowing the government to act across ministerial and
industrial demarcation lines.
Since then a series of Golden
Projects were inaugurated at the Joint Conference. Vice Premier
Li Lanqing first proposed the "Golden Customs" project
in June 1993. It was to create an integrated data communications
system connecting foreign trade companies, banks, and the customs
and tax authorities. The system was to speed up customs clearance
and strengthen the authorities' ability to collect tax and duty
payments. It would also allow companies to submit import and
export declarations to the customs authorities, calculate duty
payments, and check import and export statistics.
The second project is a pilot
project called the "Golden Bridge." It was to build
the first national public economic information communication
network. This project was funded approximately US$ 3 million,
granted under the former Premier Li Peng.
Another project, the "Golden
Card," was initiated to create a unified payment clearance
system which would allow the wide use of credit and debit cards.
The project was initiated by a speech of President Jiang Zemin
in 1993 calling for the creation of a nationwide credit card
system, which could be used throughout China. China's fragmented
banking system has traditionally made it extremely difficult
to clear transactions, thus formed a major barrier to commerce
especially e-business. The Golden Card was launched in 1995
and 1996 in 12 trial areas, including most of the major cities
and more developed provinces. It is still under construction
and is estimated to be completed in 2-3 years.
As the purposes of the first three
pilot projects indicate, the central government embraces the
development of telecommunications industry and IT and pays great
attention to regain and enhance surveillance over the activities
of government workers. The Golden Tax Project, for example,
allows customs departments to verify through networks a range
of data in order to facilitate customs management and prevent
illegal activities - one of the major initial conceptual attractions
of the project.
2.3. Government Online Project
When the Golden Projects launched
in the period of 1993 and 1998, most of the projects were run
under the patronage of a certain top leader or a certain government
departments. Therefore there was strong "departmental interests"
behind each project. It was characterized as grandiose plans
and one-dimensional, sector-oriented networking. There was also
no independent examination of each plan's feasibility, so the
results of these projects often did not fully meet the originally
In order to network all administrations
and state departments, another plan called the "Government
Online Project" was conceived. It was launched at the beginning
of 1999 by China Telecom and the State Economic and Trade Commission,
along with the information offices of more than 40 central departments.
The following phases were conceived
at the end of 1998:
a. By the end of 1998, 30% of ministries and provincial governments
should have been moved onto the Internet.
b. By the end 1999, 60% of departments of central and provincial
levels should be brought online. To advance the project, 1999
was declared to be the year of "Government Online".
c. By the end of 2000, 80% of state organs should be online.
Some of the websites should be free from subsidies and be able
to finance themselves.
d. In the years immediately following 2000, all state organs
including embassies and consulates abroad should be networked.
As the White Paper of Government
Online Project states, the www.gov.cn
entails six components outlining the main concept of the project:
a. "The guidelines of 'Government Online'(zhengfu wangzhan
daohang)" provide installation service and consulting to
b. "The propaganda center of 'Government Online' (zhengfu
wangzhan xuanchuan zhongxin)" aims to present events concerning
the project organized by central or provincial governments.
c. "Bulletins of government needs (zhengfu gongzuo rexian)"
concentrates on the publication of job and other government
d. "The service center (fuwu zhongxin)" provides services
for the installation of virtual platforms, security measures
and other consulting and personal training related to the "Government
e. "The information centre (ziliao zhongxin)" presents
laws and regulations available to citizens and other data banks.
f. "Hundred cities network" (baicheng zaixian) regularly
presents provincial hosts of Government Online and delivers
information from the provincial governments.
The Government Online Project
as a nationwide campaign in its first stage can be characterized
as a hybrid. The central government was keen to improve business
environment by networking government organs, but also keen to
regain surveillance over the provincial authorities. When provincial
and lower level government institutions were reluctant to digitalize
administration work and government service, directives were
imposed. Several times during 1999-2000, the GOPSC also organized
workshops and conferences to encourage the participants to improve
the quality of their websites.
As is known now, 1998 was the
high point of the global digital bubble. The description of
e-government was mostly combined with an (over) optimistic stance
toward digital world including e-government.
2.4. Achievements Towards Establishing
Due to the initiative from China's
top leadership, most provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities
directly under the State Council have set up a leading group
on informatization headed by their principal leaders. Prefectures,
cities and counties have also formed an informatization body,
giving shape to a nationwide informatization leadership structure.
Parallel to the formation of an institutional structure, there
occurred a modest form of e-government. The introduction of
e-government has improved governability and has reduced tension
between the government and citizens who use the net.
Via digital networking, criminal
activities such as tax fraud could be, if not prevented, at
least contained at a certain level. By now more than 60% of
the country's tax authorities have been computerized. 75% of
tax is allegedly collected via the intranet. By the end of 2000,
the "Golden Tax" and "Golden Custom" projects
were partially completed. This means that the tax authorities
and the customs are able to operate together to make taxation
work more effectively. In 1999 China Customs solved criminal
and smuggling cases valued at approximately RMB80 billion. This
system also allowed the government to collect RMB 1,266 billion
tariff payments in the year 2000, an increase of 22.8% over
To some extent, the communication
between citizens and the government has been enhanced via digital
networking. Numerous local governments with well-designed portals
provide citizens contact with mayors or respective authorities
via an e-mailbox. During the sessions of the Chinese People's
Congress each spring there is a special chat room and e-mail
connection between delegates and citizens which allow Internet
users to put forward publicly their suggestions and criticisms
(though the criticisms can not go beyond the tolerated limit.)
2.5. Further Development
Under the rubric of the "Government
Online" project, as a next stage to the e-government project,
the Chinese authorities have planned the computerization and
digitalization of enterprises and households. Since 2001, projects
known as "Enterprises Online" (www.sinoeol.com)
and "Households Online" (www.sinohome.com)
have been embarked on. The goal of the "Enterprises
Online" project is to have one million small enterprises,
10,000 medium size ones and 100 large enterprises connected
with the Internet by the end of April 2001, so that the companies
can "promote management, set up modern enterprise systems
and become more competitive in the market." Compare
to the "Government Online" project, the later two
do not have concrete targets. The government tends to let them
be managed by the market forces instead of by administrative
Furthermore, an ambitious goal
concerning the Internet and IT development was set by the central
government in the 10th Five Year Plan (2001-2005). In five years
China should have a modern broadband network combined with Internet,
telephone line, and cable TV networks. The number of Internet
users will reach 150 million, meaning that more than 11% population
will be networked online. When set against today's less than
2% of Internet users within the entire Chinese population, this
goal is venturesome as well as encouraging.
3. A Preliminary Assessment of
the Chinese e-Government
3.1. Examples of Worldwide Comparative
Assessment and Some Methodological Considerations
Perhaps the best systematic study
of the comparative success of e-government is the one carried
out by the World Market Research Center. Based on the methods
employed by West, Darrell M. (2201) in "An Assessment of
City Government Websites", the World Market Research
Center issued a report on the worldwide assessment of e-governments
including China's in June 2002.
The data consists of 2,288 government
websites from 196 nations around the world. Among the sites
analyzed were those of executive offices, e.g. president, prime
minister, judicial offices (such as major national courts) and
cabinet offices. Six aspects have been assessed as the qualification
of an e-government: 1) online service, 2) privacy and security,
3) disability access, 4) foreign language access, 5) advertisements
and user fees, 6) public outreach (communication between government
According to the report, China takes 12th place regarding "online
service". The top e-government provider was Taiwan with
65% sites offering online services. In China, 26% of national
websites offer such services. However, the overall scores of
China's e-government were quite low, placing 85th among the
196 nations. There are sevearl methodological weaknesses
within this survey. It neglects the back-office developments
such as government intranets, joint development of applications
to facilitate interoperability, and joined-up government services.
A sound study of e-government should include the assessment
of the back office as well as the front office. Since it
is often unrealistic to study the back office because most surveys
are done at "long distance," the question remains
how to assess the "front office" in a more comprehensive
way so that the results will better reflect the reality. Moreover,
local users, or "local e-citizens" were never asked
about their needs. Besides, the Chinese web sites were read
with the help of a translation machine, which significantly
impared the understanding of their contents. A multi-dimentional
method in studing e-government is in dare need.
3.2. A Comparative Analysis of
the Content of Government Portals (Dec. 2000)
We can identify some special characteristics
of China's e-government by comparing the content of the first
page (welcome page) of the government portals of PRC, USA, Singapore
and Taiwan These websites have similar designs in which the
welcome pages provide an overview of what each portal contains.
This analysis focuses on the links
supplied on the first page, which reflects the agenda and motivation
of the website-maker. Five categories of links are analyzed:
1) Service-oriented links provide links to other (lower) government
organs, information data in terms of public goods, as well as
links to services provided by the central government.
2) Communication-oriented links usually consist of feedback
e-mailboxes and polls to which every cyber-citizen can normally
3) Business-oriented links provide business and economic information,
such as stock market data as well as commercial advertisements.
4) Agenda-setting links indicate that the government's interest
in taking a role in guiding and influencing the populace. These
links provide certain kinds of information, including information
to help improve the government's image.
5) Administration-oriented links focus on information about
the state organs and the work of the government (including public
As the table shows, in comparison
to other e-governments, China's government website puts great
emphasis on agenda-setting. Although the site mostly reports
news on IT promotion events, it is obvious that the central
government takes it for granted that the release of news is
a matter that the government should have control of. 
A comparative content analysis
of the Chinese government website
* Most links on the Chinese websites fit into this category
only formally, because their content is not always identical
with the definition. The same is true of the links to do with
Among all the e-governments' websites
explored here, China's government site is the only one which
is financially supported (at least partly) by advertisements
from foreign and Chinese companies-like Microsoft, Cisco, IBM
and Legend. The relatively large percentage of business-oriented
links confirms once again the government's view that the economy
is the top priority. On the other hand it also indicates that
the establishment of websites cannot be guaranteed by the government
itself, as there is a lack of institutional and legal framework
for an e-government. For state organs at a lower level, where
the budgets are small, the founding of e-government in the future
could involve many problems.
Moving onto "service"
-which should be the main feature of e-government-Cui Shaoming,
who conducted a survey about China's e-government websites in
mid-1999, points out that China's e-government is still far
off from its goal of providing citizens with sufficient public
goods.  The results of my examination (Dec 2000) show that
the links on the website "www.gov.cn"
deliver very little direct information. As China's White Paper
of Government Online Project suggests, the state organs of central
government, as well as those at the provincial level, should
present data banks and statistics concerning all branches as
public goods to all residents. But this goal remains wishful
thinking for the majority of government websites. According
to surveys, the amount of information that goes in and out of
China is only 0.1% and 0.05% respectively of the total volume
of global online information. Up until now, the Chinese
government still possesses a monopoly of information. As reported
in 1999, about 80% of the social data and around 3,000 of data
banks are kept secret in official organs.
3.3. How Attractive is the Chinese
E-Government to Internet Users? A Further Comparative Study
Made Between Nov. 8 and Dec. 8 2000.
Investigation of the websites
of China's ministerial organs reveals an unequal development.
The Ministry of Foreign Trade's presence on the Internet is
considered very successful because of smooth cooperation between
the various departments within the ministry and between the
ministry and commercial institutions. An official report reveals
that the access rate has reached an average of 720,000 per day
in 2000. Half million hits come from abroad. In contrast,
between November 8th to December 8th 2000, only 966 people visited
the site of the State Development Planning Commission (SDPC)
and 1334 hits registered by Statistics Information Network (SIN
- a website of State Statistics Bureau).
Many municipal e-governments in
China are not often visited. Between November 6 to December
6 2000, Qingdao (pop. 2.2 m), Shenzhen (pop. 2.79 m) and
Chifeng (pop. 0.44 m) was registered with 1,558, 540 and
93 hits per day respectively. In comparison, Taipei's (pop.
5.5 million) website was visited by 5,848 hits daily in the
The reason for these differences
lies not only in the construction and content of the websites,
but also in the varying levels of interest that cybercitizens
have in the Internet.
3.4. Existing Problems Hidden
Behind the Chinese E-Government
Like an iceberg, the invisible
part of e-government (back-office) may well be the largest.
Significant behind-the-scenes changes are thus necessary for
successful and cost-effective e-government applications. The
importance of back-office capabilities increases when agencies
move from static presentation of information to dynamic services
that involve direct communications and transactions.
Back-office transformation usually
includes the following: major business process and workflow
improvement; fundamental re-thinking of data definitions and
data quality factors; and records creation, maintenance, and
preservation rules. If an e-service involves more than one program
or organization, then data sharing, process linkage, and system
integration add more risk and complexity. These critical transformations
can be extremely difficult, time consuming, and expensive. Consequently,
they require strong executive support.
E-government is based on the principle
of rational administration, including sharing of information
and transparency. To get accustomed to this administrative process
requires a modern way of thinking as well of behavior. Chinese
state officials, as well as those in other industrial countries,
all face problems in changing the old working style. Two Chinese
commentators, Gu and Huang, made the following remarks:
(China's) e-government is a revolution.
But it is not a revolution that can be carried out easily. (
The 'Government Online Project' is a thoroughly altered model
of the way in which the government has operated and functioned
for many decades.
Obviously, the introduction of
the e-government will not only enable the top leaders to monitor
the public service but also enhance the information exchange
between public servants, so that administrative coordination
will become easier and citizens can benefit from the reduction
of unnecessary procedures.
An e-government is a product of
high-tech societies, for it assumes that every state worker
should be computer-literate and that any work place is computerized.
For a country like China, where the development is uneven, it
will still take time to meet the requirements necessary for
introducing an e-government. For developed regions like Beijing,
Shanghai and some coastal provinces, the emergence of e-government
will inevitably lead to a fundamental change of working style,
both technologically and mentally. However, such changes can
only be possible if the state officials are oriented to "serve
the people" (in the words of Mao Zedong).
Even disregarding the obstacles
imposed by the institutional and legal framework, the state
workers still have strong resistance toward a citizen oriented
work style. Few are ready to give up their information monopoly
by making information available online. As a result, 80% of
databases are locked in the government files. Neither enterprises
nor individuals can access them. Even among government departments
there is no regular exchange of information as required. The
reason for the lack of information transparency lies partly
in the state officials themselves and partly in China's information
policy. The existing law of state secrecy is, as Zhou Hanhua
points out, far behind the present reality and cannot meet modern
administrative requirements. To overcome the difficulties in
online information publication, a new nationwide legal framework
needs to be created. 
As for intranets, there are also
many problems to be solved in internal surveillance. Even when
projects like Golden Tax and Customs are completed, the scale
of surveillance would still be limited. It is still quite easy
for the lower authorities to supply false data to deceive the
central government. A sound e-government can only work if other
control mechanisms like freedom of speech are available. Though
in the past decades Chinese citizens have achieved a certain
degree of freedom of speech, neither media nor citizens are
allowed to criticize the authorities publicly. So there is no
further control mechanism that can be employed to combat fraud
or deceit by lower level authorities if digital surveillance
fails to work as the central government expects. Thus the conflicts
between administrative and political reform that the Chinese
leadership faces are legion.
Apart from the political aspects,
there also exist technical problems that hinder the rapid development
of Chinese e-government. One is the lack of funding. Many local
governments do not have adequate financial resources to acquire
well-trained computer and network specialists to create and
maintain quality portals. For the same reason the security measures
of e-government portals are usually weak and far from meeting
even the minimal standard. The "hacker war" in May
2001 has shown that Chinese e-government is quite vulnerable
to cyber attacks. 
4. Concluding Remarks
China's e-government is still
in its infancy. A business-oriented e-government connected with
enterprises networks is likely to emerge in the coming years.
But apart from big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, a nationwide
service-oriented e-government is too much to expect in the short
term. In the long term, however, Chinese citizens will benefit
more than those in other developing countries from efforts in
establishing the e-government.
Politically, it is foreseeable
that by harnessing the Internet and other technologies to improve
the efficiency and transparency in the government and to fight
corruption, the Chinese government may be able to use new technologies
to facilitate its political control. Transparency by itself
does not necessarily mean democracy. Yet the introduction of
e-government will in the long run inevitably lead to a breakthrough
in the political system reform, and the way of thinking and
behavior. This implies that e-government will accelerate a process
of "peaceful transformation" that the Chinese leadership
might not have expected.
(The Author is a lecturer in Free
University of Berlin, Germany)
 New Zealand Government (2001), pp. 1.
 See: 1) "E-Government: The Next American Revolution"
(02.02.2001); 2) "Modernizing Government", in: www.citu.gov.uk/moderngov/whitepapter/4310-01.htm
 It is nowadays questionable if e-voting can be realized
technically. Besides, the 1990s euphoria (prevailing mostly
in the USA), which overemphasized the significance of democratisation
via the Internet, seems to have entered a stage of disenchantment.
 White Paper of "Government Online" Project, Beijing
 Lycian Pye (1988): The Mandarin and the Cadre: China´s
Political Cultures, p. 99.
 Zhao (2000).
 Zhao (2000).
 The 836-Plan was a plan initiated by several top scientists
in China, who suggested to Deng Xiaoping in the 80´s that
China should have its own high-tech in telecommunication, biochemistry
and other fields. Deng approved the suggestion. The plan was
launched soon after by several research groups and was called
the 836-Plan. After Jiang´s coming into power, the scale
of the plan was enlarged, with yet more emphasis on IT. The
"909-Project" was conceived during 90´s. Its
target was to develop China´s own software industry to
reach the newest world standard.
 Cf. Junhua Zhang (2001): China´s Government Online
and Attempts to Gain Technical Legitimacy, in: Asien, Nr. 80,
July 2001, pp. 93-115.
 Government Online Project Service Center (GOPSC) (2000a).
 Anthony Giddens (1985): The Nation-State and Violence,
Cambridge, pp. 201-208.
 China Internet Weekly, June 12, 2000, pp.28.
 The paradoxical love-hate feelings towards the Internet
on the part of the CCP are clear in many speeches made by Chinese
leaders. In late 1999, Jiang Zemin asserted, for example, that
the Internet is an instrument the Western countries use to launch
a "peaceful transformation" (subversion) of the "socialist
countries". Cf. Open Magazine January 2000 p. 14.
(June 16. 2000)
(June 3. 2001).
 The overwhelmingly supported mega-news websites are renmin
ribao (People´s Daily), xinghuashe (Xinghua News Agency),
guoji guangbuo diantai (International Broadcast Station), zhongguo
ribao (China Daily) und zhongguo guojihulianwang xingwenzhongxingm
(CNNIC). Besides, the Ministry of Culture established two websites
in order to enhance the world wide influence of "Chinese
grand culture" Cf. (accessed on October 22, 2000); www.bignews.org/20000221.txt;
www.scmp.com (June 16. 2000).
 www.mii.gov.cn; www.cnnic.gov.cn
 Project of Government Online (II): Assembly for Promoting
the Online Government of 100 Cities, Beijing 2000, p. 5.
(Dec. 1. 2000)
(June 23.2000); http://www.virtualchina.com/news/jun00/
060200-domain-names-jg-dcm.html (February 12. 2000).
(November 2. 2002)
 The notion of "front office" refers mostly to
what one perceives by employing and judging the visible web
structure and content of e-government, while "back office"
refers to the hidden side of e-government such as the infrastructure,
institutional framework, and administrative and political culture
of the countries in question.
 Since the analysis was compiled.
 Beginning from June 2001, China created another e-government
portal with the URL: http://govinfo.cei.gov.cn/index.shtml.
 Cf. www.mingpao.com/newspaper/20000210/t_cfalh.htm
(February 10, 2000).
 Cf. Renmin Ribao, 23 January 1999.
(February 18, 2000).
 Zhongguo qingnianbao (Chinese Youths), August 10, 1999.
Qingdao was one of "top five" and "top ten"
e-government websites in 1999 and 2000.
 Meanwhile an important factor should be taken into consideration:
apart from Chinese the website of Qingdao can also be read in
several other languages-in other words, visitors of these websites
could also be non-Chinese cyber-citizens.
 Gu Dong'an / Huang Qinhui: "Zhengfu shangwang, geming
shangwei chenggong?" ("Government Online" - An
Unfulfilled Revolution?) in: Diannao Ribao (Computer Daily)
Beijing, August 14.1999.
 Yang, Lianmin (2000). Zhou is responsible for a research
project on the legal framework of the e-government in China
at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
Black, Jane (1997): Golden Projects, in: Special Reports (http://news.cnet.com/news/0,10000,0-1004-201-320055-0,00.html)
Chinalabs Limited (2001): Zhongguo dianzi zhenwu yanjiou baogao
(Report on Study of the Chinese E-government), Beijing, www.chinalabs.com.
- (2001): Dianzi zhenwu shishi yanjiou baogao (Report on Study
of Implementation of E-government), Beijing, www.chinalabs.com.
CTG - Center for Technology in Government (2001): E-Government
-Creating Tools of the Trade. A Report from the E-Government
Foster, William / Seymour E. Goodman (2000) The Diffusion of
the Internet in China. Center for International Security and
Cooperation (CISAC), Standford University. Government Online
Project Service Center (GOPSC) (2000a): (Zhenfu Shaowang Gongchen
Baipishu (White Paper of "Government Online" Project)
- (2000b): Zoujin Xinshidai (Entering a New Era), Beijing.
Heeks, Richard (2001): Understanding e-Government for Development,
Paper No. 11, Institute for Development Policy and Management,
- (1998): Information Age Reform of the Public Sectors: The
Potential and Problems of IT for India, Paper No. 6. Manchester
Laperrouza, Marc (1997) An Overview of Internet in China http://www.eviangroup.org/publications/pb_22ml.htm
Liu, Lieli (2001): Xinxi shidai de dianzi zhenwu yu dianzi zhenfu
(Digitalized Administration and E-government in the Information
Age), in: Liaowang (Perspective Weekly), p. 16-21.
New Zealand Government (2001): E-Government Strategy - Vision,
New Zealand will
be a world leader in e-government (www.e-government.govt.nz).
Nina Hachigian (2001): E-government in China, working paper
for the Third Global Forum, Naples.
Kalathil, Shanthi / Boas, Taylor C. (2001): The Internet and
State Control in Authoritarian Regimes: China, Cuba, and the
Counterrevolution (Working Paper), Global Policy Program, No.
21, July 2001, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Office of the e-Envoy (2001): E-Government: Benchmarking Electronic
Service Deliver - A report by the Office of the e Envoy
Project of Government Online (II): Assembly for Promoting Government
Online of 100 Cities, Beijing 2000.
Ramo, Joshua Cooper (1998): China Gets Wired, in: Time, May
Samuel Chang (2001): Build a New City Network, March to the
New Economic Era, www.worldbank.com
(Nov. 2 2001).
Toffler, A. (1980) The Third Wave, New York: Morrow.
West, Darrell M.(2201): An Assessment of City Government Websites.
Brown University Urban E-Government.
World Market Research Center (2001): Global E-Government Survey,
Brown University USA.
Yang, Dali L. (2001): "The Great Net of China" in:
MFC Internet Update (www.mfcinsight.com/article/010209/oped4.html).
Yang, Lianmin (2000): Zhenfu xinxi gongkai xu jiejue liouge
wenti (Six Problems should be solved for the Publisizing the
Governmental Information), in: Zhongguo jinji shibao (China
Economic Daily) July 17, 2001.
Zhao Xiaofa (2000): Tuijin guojia xinxihua (Promoting National
Informatization) - Speech at the Forum of IT Application for
the Chinese Enterprises (www.chinabbc.com.cn).
Zhang, Junhua (2001a): China's "Government Online"
and Attempts to Gain Technical Legitimacy, in: Asien July 2001,
- (2001b): Venimus, Vidimus, Dolavimus - Ein Einblick in Chinas
Vorbereitung auf einen digitalen Krieg, p. 37-41, in: Wissenschaft
und Frieden 4, 2002.