An aerial view of the Mengwa Flood Diversion Area in Funan county in East China's Anhui province on July 22, 2020. (Photo: China Daily)
The Anhui provincial government recently issued an overall emergency plan, which stipulates that local governments or emergency response departments should brief the public through the media within five hours of an emergency situation and they should also hold emergency news conferences within 24 hours.
This regulation has won wide public support. In fact, even back in 2017, the local government of Hefei in Anhui required local authorities to respond to emergencies within five hours.
In the era of internet, the authorities should be able to share the key information on emergencies with the public in a shorter time, which can help refute rumors that may trigger panic and endanger social stability.
People look to the government for reliable information during an emergency. Therefore, it is important for the government to dispel any doubts the public might have during an emergency.
Otherwise rumors will overwhelm facts. The best way to stop the spread of misinformation and maintain social order is to respond to social concerns in time. If the public gets to know what has actually transpired from an official channel, the rumors will not strike root.
Anhui's new regulation demonstrates a positive transition of the government's work style. Instead of belated responses, they are now actively responding to public concerns in time and upholding the public's right to know.
This is a better way of social administration as it can easily win public trust and scotch rumors. More governments should learn from Anhui to be more "open" and win public support through establishing a transparent information disclosure mechanism for emergencies.