Having a hotline to the city mayor sounds like a good idea but the initiative has been panned by the public in a poll, with eighty percent of those surveyed giving a resolute thumbs down, according to a series of surveys conducted by the People’s Daily.
Wuhan city in central China’s Hubei province and Shenyang in northeast Liaoning province launched mayor’s hotlines in 1983 at a time when governments at all levels in China were looking for ways of improving communication with ordinary citizens.
In 1999, the Ministry of Information Industry set aside the number 12345 for the hotlines. More than 600 Chinese cities now have mayor’s hotlines to listen to the voice of citizens and answer their questions on government policies. Other communication initiatives include live interviews with officials on the internet. However, about 80 percent of the 202 respondents to an online survey said the hotlines were “of no use”. Only 10 percent believed they were “useful” and “could solve some problems,” and the other 10 percent thought they were “OK” partly because they gave citizens the opportunity to provide suggestions for government work. [Full Text]