Minimal Governance: Rural Governance Modernization That Transcends Bureaucracy

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No. 3, 2022


Minimal Governance: Rural Governance Modernization That Transcends Bureaucracy 



Ouyang Jing


Unlike the tradition of “minimal governance” against the background of “governance by inaction”, the contemporary minimal governance of rural areas occurs in the context of the Communist Party of China’s active promotion of Chinese modernization. It refers to a governance mode in which the local governments at the nexus of the state and the rural society achieve their top-down functions in a low-cost and efficient manner through non-bureaucratic governance methods. These methods have included the mass line; dispatching cadres to production teams; collective governance of a village by a team composed of party cadres, general governance cadres, and local cadres; working groups; and the combination of centralization and decentralization. In recent years, the pressure of “a thousand threads coming down from above” on “the single needle down below” has weakened the ability of village and township party committees to undertake political unification, leaving them unable to play their part in minimal governance, and this in turn has led to the problem of formalism at the grassroots level. Given this situation, the modernization of rural governance should start from the nexus between the state and rural society, deal with the practice of the relationship between “thousand threads” and “ the single needle,” and give full play to the function of minimal governance at the grassroots level, so as to maintain the autonomy and flexibility of rural governance.