We have launched E-mail Alert service,subscribers can receive the latest catalogues free of charge

You Are Here: Home > Publications> Articles

Petition System and Social Stability


By Zhao Shukai, Development Research Center of the State Council

With regard to social stability mechanism, petition system should be examined from the following aspects. First, can the fundamental community-level conflicts be resolved through petitions? Reviewing the history of petitions addressed by farmers, one may find that China’s rural areas after entering the 21 century are presenting some new features: 1. The conflicting entities have become farmers and community-level governments rather than resource and interest disputes between households within a village or between villages; 2. Farmers’ organization approaches have become increasingly modern in the process of conflicts, with new-type organizations and channels for expressing their interests replacing traditional forms; 3. Protests within the system (such as addressing petitions) remain the dominating feature for farmers’ behavior. Second, what is the root cause inducing petition cases? In view of the power distribution of different levels of government, there exists excessive power centralization by the upper-level government. In terms of the power structure of the leadership system, one salient feature is individual centralization of power, mainly reflected as centralization by the secretary of the Party Committee. The government system of power centralization by the upper-levels and individuals is the fundamental cause of accumulated pressure on petition which has become too difficult to be addressed. Third, how can the community-level governments gain political trust? To better preserve political stability, the main task now is to enhance political trust building. In the democratic system, there shall be more interactions between the public and local governments and more routine channels to influence policy-making. Fourth, are channels for the people to express their interests and expectations smooth? The petition departments have made great efforts in ensuring stability through resolving conflicts and have made great contributions to the stable development in rural areas. However, their role is yet to be fully leveraged. Due to the plight facing the government system, media have carried too many expectations of petitioners, which is abnormal and shows ineffective work by the administrative and judicial authorities as well. Fifth, it is suggested to allow those who endow power to wield the supervising power. The current petition system seems to be supervised by the people externally, but viewing from government administrative mechanism, it remains self-supervised by organs of state power. Petition, in the essence, should feature supervision right by the people, and effective supervision is exercised by those who have conferred the power to supervise such power.

For more detailed information, please refer to here.