UK China Interface

mrhenderson Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Xi Jinping is in town, so where do I stand on the UK China relationship?

Well, I’ve been fascinated by Chinese government for a little while now –  mainly after my escapade in Beijing last year.  As an advocate for eDemocracy, it’s exciting to think about the potential of digital government for so many people.  That’s not as easy as it sounds, particularly as fixed line internet access in China is limited.

What surprised me is that there is real energy in China among civil servants for listening and considering citizen feedback.  Yes – they have systems for online petitions and consultation and have one of the most advanced online efforts for drafting legislation.  You can read all about that in the report here

It’s not all perfect – the usability of many online services that I saw was questionable and there is no escaping absolute authentication.

Let’s be frank, it’s clear that the Chinese regard democracy as chaos.  But in many respects, they’re right!  True this doesn’t match the way we work but we should sit up and listen to some of the achievements accomplished under such a regime.  Not only could the UK digital government circuit learn something new but we could help them overcome the lack of trust and corruption at the local level which has plagued their system and resulted in reputational damage.

One day I hope that we can exchange ideas with the Russian digital government effort in the same way.  I think people forget that most Europeans, Chinese and Russians share the same land mass.

Despite the red carpet visit of Xi Jinping this week, I felt really let down by government in their welcoming of the State Council last year.  I had to pull a lot of strings, the reception was lukewarm and GDS showed their true colours:-

Re: Visit of the State Council Legislative Affairs Office to the United Kingdom 5-9 July 2014


Thank you so much for getting in touch and reaching out to us. Your visit sounds fascinating and normally we would be very happy to facilitate our support. However, on this occasion we will have to decline because of other delivery commitments around the first 2 weeks of July.

Please keep us updated on your trip and the EU-China Project. I am attaching some information which you may find useful

Thank you

Abby Peel

International Liaison and Visits Manager,

Government Digital Service

I hope that when my friends from the State Council visit again in November 2015 they will get the same warm welcome that David Cameron is offering at the top of the chain.  Only then will it look like we’re not just begging for money.

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