China's ongoing efforts to integrate its nonemergency government hotlines will make it easier for the public to have their voices heard and improve the efficiency of administrative services, an official said on Thursday.
According to a guideline published by the General Office of the State Council on Wednesday, the country will merge government departments' existing service hotlines into one unified 12345 hotline this year.
The move will not affect emergency numbers, such as 110 for the police, 120 for the ambulance service and 119 for the fire brigade.
Di Jing, head of the office's unit responsible for the transformation of government functions, told a news briefing on Thursday that the merging of government hotlines is part of efforts to build a service-oriented government that offers one-stop services.
"The reform can not only ensure that opinions and complaints from the public will be handled in an open and transparent manner but also improve efficiency of services," he said, adding that it will also help streamline administrative resources and reduce fiscal expenditure.
The reform will see 13 service hotlines incorporated into the 12345 hotline, which also will offer parallel services with another 14 hotlines.
Di said the government will continue to expand channels for the public to find information about services, make complaints or report problems, with steps to expand the knowledge base of phone operators and enlist the support from experts.
Authorities in regions with integrated development plans, such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei province cluster, the Yangtze River Delta and Chengdu-Chongqing, will be encouraged to share their hotline services, he said.
The guideline, passed at an executive meeting of the State Council last month, called for local authorities to establish mechanisms to supervise and assess the handling of complaints made by the public and ensure that relevant departments assume their due responsibilities.
Wang Jun, head of the bureau of administrative service management in Beijing, told the news briefing the capital merged its 52 nonemergency service hotlines in 2019, and the integration enabled the city to build a database of public complaints to improve administrative services.
"We will conduct more in-depth analysis of public complaints from multiple dimensions and find more weak links in governance at the grassroots levels," he said.
Ma Liang, a public administration professor at Renmin University of China, said the integration of government service hotlines can help promote better coordination between different departments to improve administrative services.
With some businesses still struggling from the fallout of the COVID-19 epidemic, authorities should prioritize the improvement of service hotlines for businesses to make government aid policies more accessible and to offer them more tailored and targeted services, he said.