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How China is developing mass involvement in local governance

Proletarian Writers

Sep 26, 2023

Our party delegates visited a new housing estate in Guizhou province to see in practice some of the ways in which Chinese people are encouraged to take part in running and improving their own communities. Inset photos show the lily pond at the heart of the estate and a tai chi class run by and for local residents.

The CPC is working at the local level to build social cohesion and stability, deepening its connections with the people.

Since the election of Xi Jinping as leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, considerable efforts have been made to overcome the inequalities caused by the policy of reform and opening up (the reintroduction of the market to China’s economy) that was adopted in the 1979. It soon became clear after the opening up that the market that was meant to bring development and modernisation was also bringing its inevitable concomitants of exploitation and inequality. Something had to be done.

Comrade Xi’s message was that “no one should be left behind” if China was to achieve its goal of a becoming a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Hence the Communist party set itself the task of adopting a system of governance that would enable it to respond effectively and rapidly to the needs of the entire population. A lot of misinformation is routinely spread in western bourgeois media regarding China’s style of governance, which is characterised as a one-man dictatorship in which Xi Jinping has absolute control over everything.

Our readers will probably have guessed that this is very far from the truth. Invited to China by the CPC to see for ourselves some of the results of the Chinese path to modernisation, members of our central committee had a chance in June to take part in a conference named ‘Strengthen the Modernisation of the System and Capacity for Community-level Social Governance’.

During a presentation that was given to international delegates in the CPC’s party school in the south-west province of Guizhou, Professor Qui Zhonghui explained the principle of the grassroots model of governance that the CPC has adopted.

Unlike in the west, where we are invited on specific dates to vote for our local representatives and are then completely ignored by those same representatives, China’s Communist party makes it a point of honour to listen to its people.

The CPC has set itself the important task of strengthening ideological and political leadership to broaden and deepen its connection with the Chinese masses, and is working to make sure it has a strong party organisation in every community. Party members are regularly sent from the cities to outlying rural areas and encouraged to adopt creative measures to help implement the three principles of self-governance, the rule of law and the rule of virtue.

Guiding principles of Chinese governance

Self-governance: CPC branches in the community are expected to adapt to the needs of local people, to serve them and to help them to participate in local government.

Rule of law: the CPC aims to improve workers’ understanding of Chinese law and access to legal systems of grassroots party members and cadres and the masses. This is seen as key to promoting social harmony and enabling the fair and timely resolution of conflicts between citizens.

Rule of virtue: the CPC aims to cultivate a socialist morality amongst the people. It expects its own members to uphold this virtue and promotes a campaign of emulation, bringing inspiring examples of socialist behaviours to the attention of the Chinese masses in all areas of life.

Visit to a new housing development

After our lecture, we were taken to a nearby housing development to see how the principles discussed are being applied in practice. With enthusiasm and passion, the general secretary of the local party branch took us around her estate, showing us the wide variety of grassroots activities in which she and her comrades are involved.

In this community, party members are divided into several workgroups in order to respond efficiently to residents’ needs, and digital and in-person feedback mechanisms have been set up to allow people to identify problems or suggest ideas for improvement of life on the estate.

In the centre of the Jinyuan estate, surrounded by leafy trees and next to a well-tended lily pond, a meeting place has been constructed, with a wooden roof to shade its occupants from the sun and a community screen displaying information and messages. Residents gather here socially, and can also use the screen to let the party know about their needs.

One of the party teams here is dedicated to legal work – to promoting the rule of law through such initiatives as a legal book corner, a voluntary legal aid team, and the running of monthly education classes in understanding China’s legal system.

Another group has been dubbed the Red Armband security team, also known as “the community’s non-staff police”. These volunteers are in charge of helping residents with all the small problems in life – whatever direct and practical problems members of the community may be most concerned about or areas in which they need help.

There is a reception in the main block of the estate where the residents can come to get direct access to a party member and report any issues they want help with. The foyer also includes a meeting room, a dancing room and a library amongst its facilities.

Another party group runs recreational activities, and focuses its efforts especially on retired residents, who might be on their own during the day. Activities they run include tai chi, calligraphy, music and traditional modelling.

The idea behind all these groups is to connect with, serve and educate the people, ensuring their needs are being met and creating a self-sufficient community in which everyone feels responsible for upholding the three principles outlined above.

In this way, the CPC builds social cohesion and stability and deepens its connections with the people.

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