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Conflicts in Rural Governance


By Zhao Shukai, Development Research Center of the State Council

Over the past ten years and more since the turn of the new century, China's rural development has kept a sound momentum, with farmers' income increased rapidly, public product supply enriched, and rural residents' wellbeing remarkably improved. However, with regard to governance, rapid development has not brought sound governance, or if we could say, the governance quality has failed to rise to an extent compatible with economic and social development; governance quality is instead worsened in many aspects. The author holds that such phenomenon of "strong development but weak governance" has not only puzzled the public in understanding China's development, but also intensified social anxiety and unrest, thus leading to public puzzle over China's future performance. According to the author, this is mainly reflected as follows: first, development and governance are imbalanced. Currently, unsound performance in rural governance is mainly, viewing from the social perspective, demonstrated through intensified rural social conflicts and increased complaints by farmers against township government. As regards the government, the relationship between different levels of government has become rather tense, with less trust between various levels of governments as well as inadequate cooperation among them. Second, there is an intrinsic logical conflict with the system. The way to find out the reason for the occurrence and evolvement of China's social conflicts should focus on the government system itself. And third, system conflicts are chiefly reflected in the following four aspects: the system conflict relating to budget management, the system conflict concerning official management, the system conflict pertinent to government performance and accountability, and the system conflict between township government and primary-level self-governance.

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