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Why Reform Leaves Township Bodies Intact?


By Zhao Shukai

By examining the expansion of township governments’ setups, we may find at least four reasons for their expansion. First, the staffing framework is gigantic perse. Staffing should be arranged for streamlining government organs, but the current framework for government size is bloated. It is the staffing system that has made institutions become overstaffed, or the basic cause for unwieldy organizations lies in the system itself. Second, township governments themselves have a strong impulse for expansion while personnel restrictions are negligible. Since township governments have their own fiscal accounts and can make payrolls by themselves, fundamentally speaking, anyone can be employed as long as leading government officials in townships are willing to do so. Third, the entire government system offers an impetus. Although organizational setup is not strictly aligned vertically, special funds and programs are controlled by the upper-level authorities under the macro system featuring administrative power centralization. If township governments do not havehead-to-toe departments, they might not be able to get pairing funds and programs. Meanwhile, the upper-level governments also enjoy the initiative in the evaluation of townships performance. Without corresponding departments, the main leading officials in township governments would see their scores reduced and their performance affected. Fourth,the governments at various levels are reluctant to see their officials among the unemployed and farmers to make petitions. There are already such incidents in some provinces. The “township telephone operator incident” found in our field survey is a typicalcase in point. The popularity of program-controlled telephones in rural areas has made operators with manual exchange become useless. It makes no big difference to township governments if they should make payrolls to more or fewer personsor delay one or three months of payment, as it bears nothings on the fundamental interests of township leading officials. However, if an incidentbecomes unstable to rural life, it will really become something. Under such circumstances, few would seek troubles for upper-level governments and also for themselves simply for fulfilling the so-called task of “streamlining government organs”.


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