BEIJING, Dec 30 (Reuters) - China's increased transparency, especially after a devasting earthquake in May, shows the country has made progress in keeping people informed, an official in charge of releasing information for the cabinet said on Tuesday. China won praise and world-wide sympathy after reporters gained free access in the immediate aftermath of the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan, which killed more than 80,000 people.
But domestic media bumped up against restrictions after parents of children killed in collapsed schools alleged the buildings had been shoddily built.
Release of prompt and accurate information, especially during emergencies, was a focus in 2008, Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, told a news conference.
"This shows that China has changed in a positive way, and such changes are recognized by the international community," Wang said as the country celebrates 30 years of reform and opening up to the world.
Wang said his office would push for more transparency in "some areas where officials have not released information in a timely manner".
China began to allow domestic media to report the death toll from natural disasters only a few years ago. Deaths from earlier calamities, including the Tangshan earthquake of 1976, fatal dam collapses and the famines of the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s went unreported in the domestic press.
(Reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim; Writing by Lucy Hornby)