Notice the Comment?

Chinese Government Responsiveness to Public Participation in the Policymaking Process
November 30, 2022

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Little is known about the responsiveness of Chinese government organizations to public participation in the policymaking process. In this article, we examine government responsiveness in the notice and comment process, in which organizations make public draft laws and regulations and solicit feedback on these proposals. We create and analyze a data set containing information drawn from more than one thousand instances of notice and comment policymaking carried out between 2004 and 2020 by government organizations at the central, provincial, and municipal levels. We find—consistent with expectations—that subnational governments were more responsive to public comments than central government ministries and that organizations were particularly responsive to lengthier comments and comments expressing negative sentiments. Although these patterns suggest the potential of the notice and comment process to mitigate information deficits and improve decision making, it nevertheless remains possible that government responses are merely window dressing and are not accompanied by substantive policy changes.