Shanghai’s governance capability strengthened by development of primary-level democracy

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Staff communicate with residents on a project of old residential complex renovation in Zhangmiao neighborhood, Baoshan district, Shanghai. (Photo from the government of the Baoshan district)
Staff communicate with residents on a project of old residential complex renovation in Zhangmiao neighborhood, Baoshan district, Shanghai. (Photo from the government of the Baoshan district)

By Liu Shi’an

In Shanghai, various approaches have been forged to build democracy at the primary level, which enable citizens to make suggestions or advice and conduct broad consultation centering on issues concerning their own interests and rights.

This well coordinates interests of different parties, resolves disputes and makes the urban communities more stable and harmonious.

The Chunjiang residential complex in Wuliqiao sub-district, Huangpu district of Shanghai was built nearly 40 years ago. It was once troubled by a series of problems, such as a dilapidated carport for non-motorized vehicles and pitted fitness paths.

The residents had a strong aspiration to renovate the complex, said Zhang Chengjun, Party head of the Longhua neighborhood of Wuliqiao, which administers the Chunjiang residential complex. However, residents’ opinions and interests varied, Zhang told People’s Daily, saying it’s a problem that often hinders the renovation of old residential complexes.

In 2019, the Chunjiang residential complex started employing a system that combines hearings, coordination meetings and appraisal meetings to improve its living environment.

The renovation of the residential complex concerned the practical interests of all the 300 households living in it, so it was important to maximize the convergence of interests.

Therefore, the Party branch and neighborhood committee of the Longhua neighborhood decided to solicit opinions from all residents, and a renovation plan was finalized and announced after hearings joined by residents.

The renovation needed huge coordination efforts. For instance, the upgrading of water supply facilities in the residential complex was a big project, and relevant excavations might inconvenience the residents. Besides, renovating the pump house would probably cut off the water supply.

After rounds of negotiations and discussions, the residents had finally reached consensus to ensure the smooth progress of the renovation project.

As the renovation was about to be finished in September 2020, the residential complex hosted an appraisal meeting, inviting the resident representatives, the property management company and the residents’ committee to evaluate the renovation results.

The residential complex, apart from introducing the system that combines hearings, coordination meetings and appraisal meetings, has adopted responsibility, commitment and notification systems. Before the renovation started, it hosted meetings for soliciting public opinions, negotiations and better oversight.

“These all well explained the consultative democracy at the primary level,” said Zhang Qian, deputy director of the Wuliqiao sub-district committee.

By practicing whole-process people’s democracy, Shanghai has connected democratic elections, consultations, decision-making, management and oversight, solving a large batch of problems that needed to be addressed for the people.

Dong Yunhu, director of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai People’s Congress, noted that Shanghai, with a strong sense of responsibility and a sense of mission, will keep innovating ideas, measures and carriers, so as to build Shanghai into a best example for practicing the whole-process people’s democracy.

Shanghai has built more than 5,500 contact points where citizens can communicate with deputies to the Shanghai People’s Congress and the National People’s Congress (NPC). Thanks to these contact points, a batch of pressing difficulties and problems that were of great concern to the people were resolved. Over the past five years, 43,000 meetings, communications and talks were held between deputies and citizens in the contact points.

The Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has kept following the resolution of major livelihood issues over the recent years. It has conducted special oversight on the renovation and renewal of old residential complexes and buildings for three consecutive years.

It has launched special inspection on the implementation of 16 livelihood projects, which was joined by 813 members of the committee. A general inspection report and 16 sub-report were delivered, and 485 suggestions made, which largely promoted the implementation of policies and decisions made by the municipal government.

Focusing on the drafting of nearly 100 regulations, such as Shanghai’s municipal data regulation, urban renewal regulation and residential property management regulation, the CPPCC Shanghai Municipal Committee has organized its members to join the consultation on legislative issues, so as to make legislation more science-based and democratic.

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