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On Fragmentation of Community-level Government Operation Mechanism


Zhao Shukai, Development Research Center of the State Council

Operation of community-level government has now entered a “locked” state and formed a specific vicious path-dependence, with internal institutional innovation difficult to emerge. The so-called “fragmentation” operation bears at least meanings in two aspects: first, it is manifested as a region divided into areas by several standards such as by residence of poor population, which has led to regional fragmentation governance. Second, it refers to fragmentation of local governments with their large numbers of departments, overlapped functions and blurred division of responsibilities, making it hard to land public issues onto effective administrative bodies. “Fragmentation” seems to be in conflict with “campaign-based operation”, but proves to be a key feature of local governments’ inappropriate institutionalization. Precisely, it should be called campaign-based operation in form and fragmentation operation in essence, which is mainly reflected as follows: first, fragmentation of “values”; second, fragmentation of “systems”; and third, fragmentation of “government functions”. Government behavior and interactions between government and the public are regulated with inadequate systems in a contingent and random manner, presenting a fragmented governing structure. The “fragmented” government operation system is also manifested in the fragmentation of the budget system. In such fragmented operation, community-level governments have to some extent become an independent political entity of interest, most extremely reflected in the fact that some community-level governments are neither community-level governments under the central government nor governments on behalf of the local people, but merely those of local officials. Community-level organizations are usually efficient in operation, but this efficiency is highly destructive, which means that they can both swiftly implement those self-profit policies and dissolve policies that benefit the country and people rather than themselves. To this, people cannot help lamenting that “policies would not go beyond the central government”.

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