Seminar eyes modernization of social governance

By LI YONGJIE / 03-02-2023 / Chinese Social Sciences Today

Elevators added to old residential communities in Shanghai, on Dec. 2, 2022 Photo: CFP

Social governance is an integral part of national governance, and in the new era, at its core is the concept of being “people-centered.”  

Connotations of Chinese modernization 

“Chinese modernization has created a new form of human advancement,” noted Zhang Zhigan, secretary of the leading Party members group and chairman of the Guangdong Social Sciences Association. Running through the past, the present, and the future, we gain a more thorough understanding that Chinese modernization dispels the myth that “modernization is equal to Westernization,” presents another picture of modernization, expands the channels for developing countries to achieve modernization, and provides a Chinese solution to aid the exploration of a better social system for humanity. 

“Material and cultural-ethical advancement is a value orientation and basic connotation of Chinese modernization,” said Han Dongxue, a professor from the School of Marxism at Tsinghua University. In the process of progressing from a developing country to a newly industrialized country and then to a developed country, it is not only necessary to continuously optimize the industrial structure and enhance the composite national strength, but also to properly deal with the prominent problems affecting social harmony arising in the construction of the people’s livelihood system. 

Exploring new governance paths 

“Modernization of a huge population is one of the important features of Chinese modernization,” said Han Zhiming, a professor from the School of International and Public Affairs at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. From this perspective, minimalism offers a feasible way to break the “curse of scale” in current national governance. The objective function of minimal governance involves multiple levels of the state, society, primary level, and individuals, including minimal national governance concept, streamlined and effective party and government organs, reasonable management and service scopes, lower financial burdens and expenditures, less control and constraint, a more dynamic society, and individuals and society that assume their own responsibilities. 

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has promoted the urban operation management system of “unified management in one network” platforms. According to Xiong Yihan, deputy dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, “unified management in one network” is not a ready-made solution, but aims to explore the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance in the context of megacities, creating greater possibilities for urban governance. Instead of simply applying digital technology to governance, “unified management in one network” takes advantage of technological applications to advance government function optimization and process reengineering, conferring upon each citizen a greater sense of gain, happiness, and security. 

Chinese modernization has brought about new opportunities for rural revitalization and development. Wu Zhicai, dean of the Department of Tourism Management at South China University of Technology (SCUT), said that in the context of building China into a modern socialist country in all respects, under the guidance of the “two-step and three-stage” policy, rural revitalization has taken a new path, striving to realize the new blueprint of integrating agriculture, farmland, farmers, and the countryside. Taking the project of “One Hundred Counties, One Thousand Towns, and Ten Thousand Villages” in Guangdong Province as an example, Wu suggested that the goal of urban and rural integration be driven by new urbanization, all-for-one tourism, and rural revitalization. 

Exemplifying high-quality development 

“The scale and vitality of social organizations are products of the institutional environment, such as policies and laws. Guangdong’s reform in innovating social organization management systems has played a leading role,” said Tian Kai, deputy dean of the School of Government at Peking University. By setting up social organization incubators and special funds, Guangdong is essentially using government power to facilitate the development of social organizations. In future, establishing cooperative relations between social organizations and the government based on more consensus and mutual trust will effectively raise public welfare, bring social prosperity and progress, and deepen high-quality development in this area. 

High-quality development serves as a comprehensive and wide-ranging development strategy, and the basic requirement and guidance of China’s economic growth. Yue Jinglun, a professor from the School of Government at Sun Yat-sen University, suggested optimizing and innovating social policies to fully perform their function of income maintenance and to guarantee and raise people’s incomes. It is advisable to initiate inclusive social policies to provide impetus for innovation and achieve green and low-carbon development. 

Deng Zhiping, director of the Institute of Reform, Opening Up and Modernization at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said that on the new journey, Guangdong is confronted with the severe situation of limited internal development and fierce external competition. To achieve high-quality development, Guangdong needs to continuously deepen cooperation between itself, Hong Kong, and Macao, and comprehensively deepen reform and opening up. It should also enhance the decisive status of the manufacturing industry, and strengthen foundational and strategic pillars. In addition, it is essential to drive county-wide revitalization, lead the Green and Beautiful Guangdong Campaign, strengthen cultural confidence and self-improvement, make public services more balanced and accessible, and build a new security architecture. This is the path for Guangdong to explore Chinese modernization. 

The high-quality development of social governance is inseparable from the modernization of the primary-level governance system and governance capacity, as well as high-quality economic development. Ren Wenhong, director of the Research Center of Social Governance at SCUT, said that in specific social governance, Guangdong should transform governance subjects from single center to multi-center, transition governance means from rigid to flexible, shift governance space from plane to networked, and turn governance purpose from instrumentalization to value generation. These endeavors will help build a community that integrates vitality and order, attaches equal importance to security and development, and combines normal and non-normal states. Doing so will allow Guangdong to serve as an example of high-quality development of social governance in the new era. 

The seminar was recently co-hosted by the Guangdong Social Sciences Association and SCUT in Guangdong Province, with the aim of learning “new governance concepts, thoughts, and strategies proposed by the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core.”