China’s Mod­ern Com­mu­nity Near Chaohu Lake

China Pictorial (English) - - Five Years Of Hard-won Achievements - Text by Zhou Xin Pho­to­graphs by Zheng Liang (

Since the 18th Na­tional Con­gress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, de­spite grave dif­fi­cul­ties both at home and abroad, China has risen to the chal­lenge and worked hard to press ahead, driv­ing for­ward sus­tained, healthy eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment, un­der the lead­er­ship of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee with Xi Jin­ping at its core.

Dur­ing the past five years, China has achieved ma­jor progress in fin­ish­ing build­ing a mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety in all re­spects, made im­por­tant strides in deep­en­ing re­form, and con­tin­ued to ex­er­cise law-based gov­er­nance. All of these achieve­ments show that Chi­nese peo­ple have the courage, in­ge­nu­ity, and abil­ity to over­come any dif­fi­culty or hard­ship, and that there is even bet­ter devel­op­ment ahead for China.

On the first floor of the ser­vice cen­ter of the Binhu Cen­tury Com­mu­nity near Chaohu Lake, one of the five big­gest fresh­wa­ter lakes in China, there is a long counter for so­cial af­fairs, where a loud­speaker and elec­tronic signs an­nounce who’s next. A stand in front of it displays in­for­ma­tion brochures about ac­cess­ing pub­lic ser­vices of var­i­ous kinds, all printed in dif­fer­ent col­ors ac­cord­ing to their cat­e­gories. The pub­lic ser­vices dis­played in the guide brochures in­clude em­ploy­ment for the dis­abled, ac­cess to pub­lic rental hous­ing, ser­vices for the el­derly and small loans. Res­i­dents can find poli­cies re­lated to spe­cific ser­vices, the el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments for those ser­vices, the doc­u­ments they need to ap­ply, and the pro­ce­dures to fol­low. The ser­vice cen­ter is lo­cated in the com­mu­nity, so that res­i­dents who want to ac­cess pub­lic ser­vices can just go down­stairs and do so.

Es­tab­lished in late 2012, the Binhu Cen­tury Com­mu­nity in He­fei, cap­i­tal city of An­hui Prov­ince, is a com­bi­na­tion of three smaller com­mu­ni­ties. With an area of six square kilo­me­ters and 134,000 res­i­dents, this new com­mu­nity has set an ex­am­ple for the re­form of China’s com­mu­nity sys­tem with its in­no­va­tive meth­ods of gov­er­nance and Party-build­ing.

A Big Pi­lot Com­mu­nity

Be­fore the 1980s, China’s econ­omy and so­ci­ety were dom­i­nated by a highly cen­tral­ized ad­min­is­tra­tive mode. Most el­e­ments of Chi­nese peo­ple’s lives were con­trolled by pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions and sta­te­owned en­ter­prises (SOES). Later, SOES no longer pro­vided pub­lic ser­vices, and this gov­er­nance mode be­came in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the devel­op­ment of China. Af­ter sev­eral ad­just­ments and re­forms, the “dis­trict govern­ment—sub- dis­trict of­fice—com­mu­nity” ad­min­is­tra­tive sys­tem was es­tab­lished. How­ever, this sys­tem has also been blamed for low ef­fi­ciency and in­suf­fi­cient pub­lic ser­vices.

In­stead of the three-level sys­tem, the Binhu Cen­tury Com­mu­nity is di­rectly ad­min­is­trated by the dis­trict govern­ment, mak­ing the sys­tem more ef­fi­cient. The com­mu­nity has set up a joint gov­er­nance coun­cil, which acts as a bridge be­tween stake­hold­ers. A ser­vice cen­ter has also been es­tab­lished to pro­vide pub­lic ser­vices.

Many res­i­dents are mem­bers of the “Binhu Helpers” vol­un­teer group, formed by res­i­dents and Party mem­bers. They pro­vide ser­vices for res­i­dents in the com­mu­nity. Mean­while, the com­mu­nity also pur­chases pub­lic ser­vices from non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and sup­ports so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions. In or­der to make ser­vices ac­ces­si­ble to all res­i­dents, the com­mu­nity has in­tro­duced a grid management mode and set up Party mem­bers’ groups for each build­ing, which can of­fer tar­geted ser­vices for res­i­dents liv­ing in that build­ing in a timely man­ner. All these mea­sures and en­deav­ors have mod­ern­ized the gov­er­nance of the com­mu­nity.

Ac­cord­ing to Shu Hongy­ing, sec­re­tary of the com­mu­nity’s CPC Com­mit­tee, the sys­tem and mech­a­nisms of the lakeside com­mu­nity are “de­signed to­tally in line with the re­quire­ments on the in­no­va­tion of so­cial gov­er­nance pro­posed by the 18th CPC Na­tional Con­gress.” As a re­sult, the com­mu­nity has achieved pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tion and co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the Party, the govern­ment, so­ci­ety and the self-gov­er­nance of the res­i­dents.

Ser­vice Cen­ter for Con­ve­nience and Hap­pi­ness

While the first floor of­fers pub­lic ser­vices, on the sec­ond floor, many other ac­tiv­i­ties are tak­ing place. Chil­dren are hav­ing fun in a play­ground, some res­i­dents are learn­ing yoga in their prac­tice room, and other res­i­dents, old and young, are play­ing ta­ble ten­nis to­gether. Be­sides this, you can also find a danc­ing room, a music room, and a par­ent-in­fant cen­ter here. The ser­vices and train­ing classes on the sec­ond floor are all pro­vided by warm­hearted vol­un­teers.

Cai Qinglin, deputy school­mas­ter of the Com­mu­nity Univer­sity for the Aged, is one such warm-hearted Party mem­ber. Not born lo­cally, he used to be the dean of a mid­dle school. He moved to the Binhu Cen­tury Com­mu­nity when he re­tired. A pri­vate school once in­vited him to take a management post with a high salary, but he re­fused. When Shu Hongy­ing in­vited him to es­tab­lish the Com­mu­nity Univer­sity for the Aged, he agreed with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

“Ms. Shu in­vited me to es­tab­lish this univer­sity. If she had of­fered a salary, I would def­i­nitely have re­fused. How­ever, I agreed when she said that this is a job with­out pay­ment. Af­ter all, I have been a Party mem­ber for a long time.” The Com­mu­nity Univer­sity for the Aged was founded af­ter the Spring Fes­ti­val in 2014. At first, the univer­sity only had three ma­jors and around 100 stu­dents. At present, it has 13 ma­jors and over 600 stu­dents, most of whom are mid­dle-aged or el­derly res­i­dents.

“Ac­tu­ally, many se­nior peo­ple have moved here from other places. They are here to take care of their grand­chil­dren. They didn’t know each other pre­vi­ously. They have noth­ing to do af­ter the kids go to school. The univer­sity serves as a plat- form for them to get to know each other, learn some­thing, and get some new ideas,” beams Cai.

Grids Pro­vide Tar­geted Ser­vices

To­day, neigh­bors in China’s com­mu­ni­ties have be­come strangers. They of­ten see each other, but rarely greet one an­other or talk, and there­fore they ac­tu­ally don’t know each other. Eighty per­cent of the res­i­dents in the Binhu Cen­tury Com­mu­nity are not lo­cals. And yet they have cre­ated a close com­mu­nity through this new struc­ture of gov­er­nance.

“We visit and of­fer our help to those who move in or out, get mar­ried, lose a fam­ily mem­ber, give birth to a child, or get ill,” says Hong De­quan, a re­tired teacher and a mem­ber of the Party group of the No. 2 Build­ing of Feng­danyuan Res­i­den­tial Quar­ter, the build­ing in which he lives. “We are vol­un­teers. Though we are old and re­tired, we are will­ing to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity.”

The Binhu Cen­tury Com­mu­nity is di­vided into nine grids, and a Party group has been es­tab­lished in each build­ing. These groups can pro­vide ser­vices for res­i­dents liv­ing in their build­ing, ac­cord­ing to their spe­cific needs.

“The rea­son we set up grids is so that we can ex­tend our ser­vices to each build­ing,” says Li Ruihe, deputy sec­re­tary of the com­mu­nity’s CPC Com­mit­tee. “There are so many build­ings in the com­mu­nity, each of which con­tains as many as 132 house­holds. In to­tal, around 134,000 peo­ple live here. The com­mu­nity gov­er­nance can­not cover all of them, so we have to place a ser­vice sta­tion in each build­ing. How did we do this? The el­derly Party mem­bers are will­ing to do this.”

Two chil­dren in the build­ing where Hong De­quan dwells lost their par­ents in a car ac­ci­dent, and are cur­rently be­ing taken care of by their grand­mother, who is al­most 60. The fam­ily is still trou­bled by law­suits, and faces great dif­fi­cul­ties. Hong said that they have reg­u­larly vis­ited this fam­ily, talked with them and found out what they needed. The Party group of the build­ing and the CPC Com­mit­tee in the com­mu­nity al­ways visit them and give them sup­port in many as­pects, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cially.

Hong’s Party group also at­taches great im­por­tance to the ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren. Nowa­days, many stu­dents are the only child in their fam­ily. Grow­ing up in this en­vi­ron­ment, they are prone to think­ing less about oth­ers’ needs and feel­ings. So the fo­cus of chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion in their build­ing is “think­ing about oth­ers.” The mem­bers of the Party group tell chil­dren true sto­ries, both an­cient and mod­ern, and talk about things that hap­pen in their daily lives, so as to en­lighten them.

Many fam­i­lies in this com­mu­nity have kids, but the par­ents are al­ways busy work­ing. When the sum­mer hol­i­days come, one big prob­lem is tak­ing care of their kids, who don’t have to go to school af­ter the par­ents go to work. Dur­ing this pe­riod, the mem­bers of the Party group take care of those kids. They tell the chil­dren sto­ries, play games with them and teach them about fire­fight­ing. Many other ac­tiv­i­ties on top­ics in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion have also been held. The Party group has con­trib­uted a lot to these kids’ ed­u­ca­tion.

Hong taught Chi­nese in Han­glu Nor­mal School be­fore re­tir­ing. As this year’s sum­mer hol­i­day be­gins, he and other mem­bers in the Party group are plan­ning to teach the kids some Chi­nese clas­sics. “We are will­ing to do these kinds of things. We are very happy, and don’t feel tired at all,” they de­clare.

June 13, 2017: A group birth­day cel­e­bra­tion for se­niors in the Binhu Cen­tury Com­mu­nity.

On the first floor of the ser­vice cen­ter of the Binhu Cen­tury Com­mu­nity, a loud­speaker and elec­tronic signs an­nounce who's next.

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