Some government spokesmen or spokeswomen do not cooperate well with reporters. They usually reject requests for an interview, seldom give news conferences and can not be reached by the telephone numbers announced to the public, a Chinese political advisor said.
"Although government departments at various levels have named their spokesmen, the system is not operating well," said Feng Shiliang, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People 's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
In a proposal submitted to the ongoing annual session of the CPPCC National Committee, Feng said government departments should hold regular news conferences so that their spokesmen or spokeswomen do not exist in name only.
"In case of major emergencies, there might be chaos if people can not hear government voice quickly," he said.
When Harbin City in northeast China suspended water supply due to the pollution in the Songhua River last year, panic spread as the city's government spokesman did not act quickly to dispel rumors.
At present, most government spokesmen and spokeswomen hold other jobs concurrently, which makes it difficult for them to collect information and conduct research, Feng said.
"The system can be improved through naming full-time spokesmen, offering regular news conferences and allowing the spokesmen to speak to the public right after emergencies," said Feng.
Wang Guoqing, deputy director of the Information Office of the State Council, acknowledged shortfalls with the existing government spokesman system.
He said the system is still novel in China. In 2006, the Information Office plans to hold more training classes and offer more guidance to help government spokesmen and spokeswomen do their job well.
(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2006)