The Chinese government is encouraging villages and urban neighborhoods to launch their own forums to help solve local disputes and get residents more involved in decision-making.
The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and that of the State Council, China’s cabinet, published guidelines promoting “community consultation” on July 22.
The government encourages communities to develop their own tailored consultation mechanisms, said Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs.
Populous villages and city neighborhoods might have different problems from remote villages or a neighborhood of migrant workers. A community should design a consultation mechanism that has enough representation and is pragmatic, Li said, adding that some communities have already tried hearings, regular forums or councils.
According to the document, consultations can involve residents, local Party and government representatives, NGOs and other parties of interest. Communities can also invite lawmakers, political advisers and experts.
The government hopes the scheme can better protect people’s right to know, and allow them to have more say in public affairs, Li said.
Local CPC organs will supervise the consultations, he added.
The guidelines promise that local Party and government departments will provide financial and logistical support.
About 900 million Chinese live in the communities targeted by this move. Although there are democratic structures allowing them to participate in decision-making, authorities hope the proposed consultations can serve as a more flexible, practical means to stop small disputes escalating and ensure smooth communication among different parties.
The central government will select some communities to showcase their consultation mechanisms, Li said.