Thu, 27 Jan 2022

Community governance pools wisdom from residents

08 Dec 2021, 20:18 GMT+10

© Provided by Xinhua

TIANJIN, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Despite the snow, several residents headed to a special room of their community in north China's Tianjin Municipality to talk about the aging plumbing problem. The heated discussion formed a sharp contrast to the biting cold outside.

"It's your kitchen pipe that is blocked. It's obviously unfair to charge us," said one.

"One building unit shares the same drainage pipes. We are definitely not the only household to blame for the blockage," said another.

"How about we hire someone to clear up the drainage system with high-pressure water, using the advertising revenue," said Zhao Deqiang, general manager of the property management company and also a resident of the community. Zhao's suggestion won unanimous support.

At the Haisongyuan residential community in Dongli District, residents voluntarily attend the meetings on different topics, raising their concerns, discussing problems related to the community and finding solutions accepted by the majority -- a manifestation of China's democratic form of grassroots governance.

Haisongyuan, home to nearly 10,000 residents from over 4,500 households, is a relocation project for six villages. The resident meeting mechanism, literally named "dispute settlement room," was launched last year, when residents were complaining about high property management fee.

"On the very first day I arrived at the office, more than 70 people showed up demanding the settlement of high property management fee," recalled Wang Fang, Party chief of the community, who took office in June last year.

Wang said the former villagers were never charged a property management fee before, so they complained about the charge of up to 2,000 yuan (about 314 U.S. dollars), which is not a small money to each household.

To solve the problem, Wang invited residents, property management company personnel and government officials to meet in the community to try to explain why the fee was necessary.

Wang also lead the residents to visit facilities like the elevator operation control room and the water pumping station, telling the residents how the property management fee would be spent.

Seeing her concerns being properly addressed, resident Liu Yuhui, who was one of those complaining about the property management fee, has become a community volunteer.

"My attitude gradually changed after the community workers solved many problems for residents," she said.

Community workers have promoted the renovation of community facilities, organized cultural activities and helped an elderly woman living alone seek an ideal nursing home..., among other things they have done for local residents.

"People are willing to participate in the discussions on matters of their personal interests," said Wang, adding that the dispute settlement room has provided a platform for residents to solve their own problems in a democratic way.

In Dongli District of Tianjin, all 103 local residential communities have established similar platforms. Since 2020, a total of 4,429 disputes have been investigated and 4,423 have been resolved, reaching a settlement rate of over 99 percent.

Cheng Tongshun, a professor of politics from Tianjin-based Nankai University, said the dispute settlement room mechanism is an example of urban and rural grassroots self-governance, as well as socialist consultative democracy with Chinese characteristics and whole-process people's democracy.

"The mechanism not only serves as a platform for resolving disputes, but also provides a channel for the grassroots to put forward their opinions and suggestions, allowing the public to participate in the democratic decision-making of public affairs in urban and rural communities at any time," he said.

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