Huang Xiaochun: Lead Governance Innovation with Party Building
Created On : 2017-10-31    Views : 276

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

It is an important instruction of General Secretary Xi Jinping that we should innovate social governance and strengthen grassroots construction to find a new road of social governance that is in line with the characteristics and rules of megacities. Over the past four years, guided by Party building, Shanghai has been making vigorous efforts to promote grassroots system & mechanism innovation in an all-around way, by incorporating Party building in each and every aspect and process of social governance, proving the strategic significance of Party building-guided governance innovation on city governance system and governing capability modernization. 

Based on the history of China's macro-reform to modernize the urban governance system, we can find that what Shanghai has done in innovating grassroots governance by bringing the guiding role of Party building into full play, can give us enlightenment on how to solve the deep-rooted problems existing in the process of social governance transformation from multiple aspects. 

First, with the Party building network as support, cement the synergies of social governance innovation and enhance the overall governance capacity of megacities. Explore the city - district - sub-district - residential communities four-level linkage system of Party building to ensure the formation of a system of joint forces from social governance innovation at different levels; at the same time, based on regional Party building, strengthen coordination between regions and departments, to encourage all kinds of work units to participate in community governance. This kind of Party building mechanism has played an active role in shaping an integrated governance network, making it possible for units of different levels, types and areas to be able to work closely with each other to enhance city governance capacity. This kind of reform brings into full play the role of the political resources and organizational resources needed for governance innovation under China's special situation, and helps to improve the current systematic level of urban governance transformation.

Second, bring into full play the leading role of grassroots Party organizations in multiple dimensions and promote orderly development of community publicness and public space. First of all, we must ensure sustained attention from multiple subjects to public issues, so as to form a long-term and stable participation mechanism, as well as a rational participation spirit and a sense of responsibility. To the above-mentioned problems, from a deeper point of view, it involves the core issue of publicness creation. To make it simple, publicness refers to that people come out of the private space and engage in discussions and actions on issues of common concern, thereby turning themselves from a private person to a member of the public. But to construct public nature is a very complex issue that requires the public sector to delegate power to the social field properly, and how to ensure “order” after that. If there is no power delegation, public nature cannot be formed; at the same time, the lack of a supervision mechanism will easily lead to uncertain risks. In the current practice of social governance, if the relations are not well treated, grassroots administrations often have difficulty in creating a substantial public space, resulting in the lack of a long-lasting stable centripetal force needed for multilateral governance. In recent years, the practice of Shanghai in leading grassroots self-governing and shared governing by bringing into full play the guiding role of urban grassroots Party building is precisely a tentative effort in creating a new pattern where vitality and good order is interdependent with one another, by introducing the work mechanism of incorporating Party building in social governance. On one hand, the multi-layer leading function of Party building puts more emphasis on its soft “value” in terms of talents, specialties and projects, so as to bring forth gushing vitality and a “soft” guiding role, which helps to maintain the good order of grassroots self governing and shared governing. On the other hand, a more open Party building network, platform, and mechanism provides an important empowerment mechanism for the formation of publicness that self governing and co-governing is based on, which helps to stimulate unceasing governing vitality.

Third, expand the Party building governance network in multi-dimensional spaces with a precise working mechanism to achieve effective governance of urban society. Shanghai's grassroots Party building work focuses on forming not only a widespread Party building network but an accurate working path, targeting various spaces of different nature in urban economic and social life. For example, build a loose Party building network in the core areas that charity, culture, and other modern organizations concern in office buildings; form an open and cohesive Party building network by setting topics to guide public attention on the internet; form a mobilization network in mobile spaces, by centering around some focus issues such as public service delivery. Through these flexible and precise mechanisms, urban grassroots Party building can further absorb the social space "overflowing" from the traditional administrative network.

Fourth, closely link Party building work, allocation of public resources, and implementation of the people's livelihood projects, so as to further improve relations between the Party and the people. Urban Party building is not simply Party building itself. Shanghai’s urban grassroots Party building lays more emphasis on how to enhance people’s sense of gain and make it a key part of promoting Party building work. In this way, Party building work is closely embedded in people’s life service projects, such as friendly community construction, white-collar posts, and 15-minute life circle. These practices have significantly improved the organic link between the Party and the people, and enhanced the people's sense of identity and participation for urban governance.

In conclusion, the innovative practice of Party building-guided social governance in Shanghai is significant not only for social governance innovation in megacities, but also for shaping the microcosmic basis of governance capability of countries in transition.


(The author is the associate professor of the Research Center for Local Governance of Shanghai University)