The Asia Foundation’s China office convened on May 13-14 a group of Chinese and international policy experts for a workshop to develop innovative ways of measuring changes in governance in China. The meeting was organized under the Chinese Governance Assessment Project (C-GAP) – a Foundation-supported research study examining changes in public participation, transparency, and accountability in China and assessing whether these changes are associated with key governance outcomes such as improved legal compliance, reduced corruption, and better public service delivery.
At the workshop, research teams presented chronologies of Chinese governance reforms along with detailed research methodologies for analyzing the effectiveness of these initiatives. The methodological discussion focused on selecting the best indicators to capture changes in transparency, participation, and accountability within the Chinese polity over time and across provinces. For instance, the transparency team developed indicators for assessing the openness of government information, while the participation team proposed to examine the percentage of draft laws and regulations requiring public comment.
By the final session, the teams had produced comprehensive lists of specific indicators to measure their governance concepts as well as promising strategies for gathering data and information. More importantly, a consensus developed among participants that C-GAP is a unique endeavor in China that is breaking new theoretical and empirical ground. Researchers from Chinese universities discussed how the project would help shape the understanding and future analysis of governance in China, and international participants expressed confidence that the project will provide new insights into the Chinese development model.
The C-GAP initiative, which will produce book-length manuscripts in English and Chinese, is being carried out in collaboration with the China Center for Overseas Social and Philosophical Theories, and the Center for Public Participation Studies and Support at Peking University Law School. It builds on governance programs supported by The Asia Foundation in China focusing on public participation in lawmaking, open government information, administrative procedure reform, performance evaluation of government officials, and other related topics.