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Community-level Democracy Should Extend to the Economic Sector


By Zhao Shukai,Development Research Center of the State Council

The reports delivered at the 15th and 16th National Congresses of the Communist Party of China took expanding community-level democracy and fully motivating the people as a key task of the political system reform. However, in terms of how to expand community-level democracy, explorations made are not adequate on both counts of theory and practice. Numerous practical problems occurred in the development of community-level democracy are not fully reflected and responded in theoretical research and policy research, with people’s opinions somewhat divided. It is held that the current effort to expand community-level democracy faces the following problems:

First, in order to implement the existing community-level democracy system, we should solidify present achievements, sum up experience, explore relevant measures and continue to improve the existing systematic framework and code of conduct so as to lay a solid foundation for further development of China’s democratic system. Specific efforts should be made to improve the community-level people’s congress system, upgrade the democratic self-governance system for farmers and urban residents, enhance the democratic management system for social organizations, and strengthen adaptability of system building. We should pay special attention to steadily improving quality. It is not true that the faster, the better, or that the higher level it is, the better. It is necessary to organize well the existing democratic forms to ensure smooth and efficient channels for people’s participation.

Second, we should introduce democratic activities into more fields of social life, especially those areas drawing high public attention or with more interest conflicts. Democracy should be closely related with people’s interests and public policy-making process. Currently speaking, community-level democracy should extend to economic sector, and such items as land contracting, land expropriation and housing removal and compensation should all be incorporated into community-level democracy. In addition, it should also extend to public service sector, and community as well as village and township construction projects should bechanneled into community-level democracy system.

Third, we should expand the participants of community-level democracy. The new social groups emerging in social transformation including the floating population and non-governmental organizations should be incorporated into community-level democracy system. Community-level democracy should also be extended to the management of self-governance organizations and mass organizations as well as community-level Party organizations.

Community-level democracy helps resolve community-level conflicts and problems and nurture self-governance capabilities and the cooperative spirit of the public. To extend community-level democracy to upper-level governments by allowing the public to participate in higher-level election and administration is the general trend for ensuring that the people are masters of the country.

Now the community-level reform is highly motivated and has made some breakthroughs through pilot practices and some new development approaches. To better take the initiative to grasp the development direction and conduct holistic policy-making, pilot projects for community-level democracy building can be undertaken in localities with appropriate conditions. We should input stronger research forces, offer powerful organization guarantee, observe and follow reform developments, accumulate experience and lessons so as to create appropriate conditions for advancing community-level democracy. The pilot projects can center on some important issues such as direct election in townships, the enforcement of community-level Party organizations,non-governmental organization management, etc.

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