Liu Jianjun: The New Mission of Shanghai's Grassroots Party Building
Created On : 2017-10-31    Views : 192

Source: Page 008 of Chinese Social Sciences Today on October 19, 2017

2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. In the nearly 40 years' history of China's reform and opening up, China has built an awe inspiring miracle in the world. The changes that reform and opening up has brought to China are all-rounded. During the period, Chinese cities have experienced an unprecedented process of abolishing of the old and establishing of the new. As a super large city in a central position in the global community, as well as China’s national community, Shanghai's change over the past nearly 40 years constitutes a witness of that Chinese miracle.

When we turn our eyes to studying Shanghai to the grassroots society, we find that the most important representation of social reform over the past nearly 40 years is that a stereoscopic new structure, in which the constituting elements mutually superimpose and mutually penetrate, has been created. Viewed from the perspective of the relations between political parties and the society and modernization of a country's governance, that to lead the new structure with Party building has become an important mission for grassroots party building in Shanghai. And that to lead the society with Party building is the key for China to build China's development path, and to develop a new model of social governance in China. In order to figure out what change has happened in the Chinese society, and as the area that has experienced the change most violently, most rapidly and most profoundly, what impacts the change in the grassroots society in Chinese cities has brought on the leading of society with Party building, we must explore the logic, path, and mechanism of the Party building's leading of the new structure, so as to provide solid political guarantee for consolidating and strengthening of the Party's basis for administration, and establishing a new type of social order with Chinese characteristics.

Party building leads the new property right structure. Since reform and opening up, one of the changes that has happened in the Chinese society is that a residential landscape, different from that of the planned economy age, has been established. Starting from the introduction of private ownership of property houses, the new property right structure has externally extended to cover environment improvement and the supply of public goods in neighborhood spaces, residential communities and areas surrounding the residential communities, which has become a residence map under the new property right structure. We find that, the logic of absolute power will strangle the vitality of public community. Many communities in Shanghai are exploring how to resist the exclusive force of absolute property right with the logic of Party building. Many systems, e.g., holding posts concurrently in Party organizations, property owner committees and property management companies, and joint conference system led by Party building, and Party organizations’ assigning representatives to property owner committees and property management companies, and the Code for Inhabitants system that is inclusive and has high absorbing capability, are some of Shanghai’s good explorations about Party building's leading of the new property right structure. Meanwhile, the property right concept under the leadership of Party building has been gradually established. Such new types of property right concepts as neighborhood property right and related property right have gradually been developed with Party building in residential buildings, Party building in residential communities, and Party building in social organizations. We can say that, Shanghai's grassroots Party building has not only reduced the destructive impact of the exclusive property right mechanism to the minimum, but has also promoted the development of the new type of property right concept.

Party building leads new need structure. We often say that, grassroots governance in cities must take meeting the residents' needs as a precondition, and this means that governance that is disjointed with the residents' needs tends to be ineffective. We find from the survey that the needs that usually link residents together include parent-child relations, environmental protection, provision for the aged, and commonweal work, but the grassroots governance that relies on meeting the residents' certain needs as a precondition is unsustainable, and to create needs and guide needs is more important. Therefore, to guide and create a new needs structure with Party building is very important for grassroots Party building.

Party building leads the new group structure. With its political advantage, and through such means as determination and putting forward of public subjects, building of mass groups, developing of cultural symbols, and transformation of public spaces of communities, Shanghai’s grassroots Party building has been continuously driving overall converging and cross converging, and gradual integration between different groups, thus the antagonism between different groups is reduced to the minimum.

Party building leads the new communication & exchange structure. The internet's reshaping of a new communication and exchange structure at the grassroots level in cities is the biggest challenge that grassroots governance faces. Internet is not a technology, but a platform. It provides a convenient channel for gathering of group strength. Many communities have gradually become "WeChat connected communities", and "two-dimensional codes connected communities". The landscape in which people form different groups based on what they like is rapidly established in the grassroots society in Chinese cities. We see a strange phenomenon in many residential communities: on one hand, various groups, i.e. fruit lover groups, or coffee lover groups, are rapidly formed with the new communication tools, which suddenly increases the frequency of communication and exchange between people; on the other hand, however, the familiarity between people on the internet has not been completely replicated to the real world, and in this way, people become "familiar strangers". Such a special new communication & exchange structure poses several challenges for grassroots Party building in Chinese cities. The palmtop residential committees, palmtop Party branches for the grassroots society in Shanghai, and such grassroots Party building work as, “building Party branches in companies”, “building Party branches on the internet”, and “building Party branches in the community”, are all proofs of the continuous expansion of the space of Party building, continuous innovation of the grassroots Party building mechanism, and continuous emerging of grassroots Party building platforms. Grassroots Party building that is disengaged from the trend of the internet age is doomed to be discarded by the age and society. Shanghai's Party building at the grassroots level has not become out-of-date at the internet age, on the contrary, it has actively shouldered the important mission of leading the new communication & exchange structure.


(The author is a professor of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University)