2008 Winner
Nanshan District, Shenzhen
Innovations and Excellence in Local Chinese Government
Innovations and Excellence in Local Chinese Government

In 2001, the Nanshan District initiated a program called Two-way Interaction in the Construction of Harmonious Communities. It is characterized by both a new form of Party Leadership and a new way for People's Congress Deputies to fulfill their duties.

As a result of the innovation, Party Leadership, members, and civil servants are now able to better serve people's interests, channel political resources into communities, and ensure sound social and community development. Party members along with public servants are now encouraged to run for the member of house-owner committees, work as building managers, and carry out volunteer activities in the communities. As a result, there is now positive interaction between party leaders and members, resident autonomy organizations, resident representatives, and public servants. In other words, this system called "Responsibility Area of Party Members" strengthens the cohesiveness and deepens the involvement of Party branches, members, and civil servants in communities.

In addition, the innovation of Peoples' Congress Deputies has used two models. In the Zhaoshang Subdistrict, People's Congress Deputies' Workshops allow Municipal and District Deputies to interact with communities and receive visitors. In the Nanshan Subdistrict, People's Congress Deputies' Workstations are staffed with liaisons that connect Deputies with residents and transfer issues raised by residents to government departments for resolution. Liaison staff also conduct public opinion polls and assist Deputies and government departments consult residents on important issues.

The Deputies' Workshops and Workstations help meet people's needs and ensure their political participation. They make it possible for Deputies to perform their roles in a more standardized way, enhance public participation, and increase the ability of Deputies to know what people need and want.

This increase in dialogue with Deputies has had a direct result on people's livelihoods. For example, during the period from 2005 to 2007, at least one member 505 jobless or "zero employment" families is now employed. As of June 2007, 843 persons from 336 urban households receive minimum subsistence allowances and 346 disabled persons are employed. Additionally, a large number of new public facilities have been completed and existing facilities have been renovated.

Administrative disputes and labor disputes in the Nanshan District have dropped drastically each year since 2005. During the first half of 2007 fewer than 3 percent (1,274) of the total labor disputes in Shenzhen City occurred in Nanshan. In addition, local public security has improved markedly.

At the request of the Party Committee and government of Nanshan District, Shenzhen University conducted public opinion polling in May and June 2007. In the eight communities in Nanshan that were polled, the polls showed that 87.07 percent of the residents were satisfied with issues such as Party organization, Party members' roles and other questions related to Harmonious Community Construction.*

In recent years, this program has received positive feedback. In 2006, four Sub-districts in Nanshan were awarded the title of "Model Subdistrict of Harmonious Community Construction" by the China Association of Social Workers. In 2005 and 2006, a total of 40 communities received the "Peaceful and Harmonious Community" award by the Shenzhen Municipal Government. Twenty of these communities received the same title from the Guangdong Provincial Government. This program also received positive attention from the media and scholars.

As Nanshan looks to the future, it has several improvements it would like to make to the program. For example, the initiative provides incentives and promotions for Party members and civil servants who engage in community development and take on additional responsibilities; however, these individuals do face obstacles in the process. At times they experience difficulties in making rational decisions when confronted with issues of "conflict of interest" caused by their dual roles in the community and Party; at other times they may have difficulty adequately representing residents' interests. The Election System of Party Congress Deputies can be improved to encourage enthusiasm for political participation. In addition, the relationship between local residential committees and the community workstations can be improved and methods can be established to ensure that liaison staff fully perform their functions and act as competent assistants to Deputies.

* ‘Harmonious Society: The current leadership (in China) is committed to generating greater economic development in the interior and providing more services to those who do not live in China's coastal areas, goals that form the core of President Hu's concepts of a "harmonious society." http://www.state.gov/