Public policy is formulated to deal with or resolve public issues or a public goal. It is established "policy" for "public" and the goal is to serve the public interest. Effective public participation is not only a measure of orientation to the "public interest", but also an important indemnity of democratic, scientific public policy. Currently in China, because the opportunity and means of citizens participate directly in public policy is limited, administrative hearings have become the main way to influence public policy.
The system of Administrative Hearing in China has been in place for a long time. In 1996 "the Law of Administrative Punishment" for the first time established the procedures for a hearing before the specific administrative acts. The system of hearing has broken new ground in the areas of administrative punishment in China; (1)In 1998 the "the Law of Price" established the requirement to hold a hearing before the implementation of abstract administrative act, thus demonstrating that the system of China's administrative hearing came into the abstract field of administrative action; (2)In 2000 "the Law of Legislation" promoted the hearing system into the field of administrative legislation; (3)In July 2004, the "the Law of Administrative Licensing" became another major advance of the hearing system in China. This was the first time that legislation clearly prescribed that administrative agencies must hold a hearing resolve major issues of public interest. These three actions demonstrate that the hearing system has real meaning in China.
Hearings, especially the price hearing, has become the focus of public interest because of its effect on ordinary citizens. Society has proven to be very sensitive to price adjustments. Over the past decade, there were a thousand large or small price hearings in China. However, the public generally mistrusts the outcome of the administrative hearing because it differs materially from the results of online surveys. The contentious issues focus on how the delegates were determined. As is abundantly clear, it is pointless to discuss the results of the hearing if the delegates making the decisions were determined unjustly.
The purpose of this paper is to promote the universality and validity of public participation in the decision-making process by analyzing the delegates who participated in the 2008 hearings in Z city.
1. THE ROLE OF THE DELEGATES OF THE HEARING
The delegates of the hearing, also called the public hearing person, mainly refers to the people who have been to participate in the procedure of deciding public policy.
The hearing representative system, as an important part of the hearing system, has many important functions. First, the system is a prerequisite to protect the fairness and democracy of public decision-making. The purpose of public policy is to allow stakeholders to participate in the administrative decision-making process, a procedure which changed the traditional one-way mode of operation of administrative power. The public is no longer the just the object of policy implementation, but is instead the Government's "partner". Second, the hearing representative system is an effective means of balancing parties interests through dialogue and consultation. With the development of the market economy, a variety of interest groups have come to coexist in China. In the process of policy making, it is essential to have extensive dialogue and consultation. Through participation of delegates from all interest groups, public policy will approach a relatively ideal state of balance. Finally, the system will encourage public confidence in our government, save administrative implementation costs and improve administrative efficiency.
2. A CASE STUDY: THE PRICE HEARING IN Z CITY
Beginning on Sep, 2008, two price adjustment hearings were held in Z City: heating and natural gas. …