Aging communities not too old to change
Updated: 2012-12-18 09:03
By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)
Li admitted that not every community is as well served as Longzang and Yanyun West. "Although the communities are about the same in terms of infrastructure, the development of citizenship spirit varies from place to place," he said.
Li said residents of Guangzhou, which first opened-up to Westerners in the late 1840s, are generally more aware of public administration than those in inland provinces.
Even in local terms, Yuexiu has many advantages as a base for pilot schemes, he said. "It has a tradition of community culture and cohesion, something that's less common in burgeoning residential areas, but remains important for community autonomy."
Li said the difficulty in continuing the reforms comes from lack of resources: Yuexiu district's social affairs committee, which coordinates social management reform for the area's 1.2 million people, has only six government employees and one contracted driver.
"Even so, we are not the worst off in Guangzhou. I know of districts where the local social affairs committee has just three or four staff members," he said.
As an "exemplary pilot", Li's office received an initial budget of 1 million yuan when it was established in May.
After equipping the office and investing in several projects, less than half is left. "We are still at the initial stage and don't even have an annual budget," admitted Li, who added that rather than a reform leader, his office is more akin to a coordinator.
Community management involves all aspects of the social sector, including insurance, healthcare and education. To carry out a project, Li said he often has to persuade different departments to contribute, and he coordinates and balances relations among them.
"Say we want to help disabled couples improve their sex lives. The government resources involved are scattered across at least four departments: the health bureau; family planning bureau; the civil affairs bureau; and the disabled federation. But we will only achieve the best results when all the resources work together."
However, his office does not have the influence to command overall support, so he's drafting a document, which, if approved by the district governor, will lead to the pooling of necessary resources for specific projects.
"I have no intention of divesting anyone of their authority, but social-management reform is systematic and requires a resourceful office to coordinate everything, " he said.
"If successful, our work may also be a good reference for reform on a broader scale, possibly even at the national level."
Li Wenfang contributed to this story.
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