Across China: Shielding communities with improved social governance in Changchun

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CHANGCHUN, July 28 (Xinhua) — In the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun, where over 8.5 million people dwell, the battle with COVID-19 has been going on like in any other city across the globe.

Faced with the outbreak, the city has seen an unprecedented campaign with the participation of over 160,000 “chiefs.”

On March 20, Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, announced that communities in the city should prevent and control the epidemic with a model of management based on different grids of communities, buildings and units.

On March 25, the “three chiefs” mechanism was established, with 4,839 “grid chiefs,” 35,170 “building chiefs” and 124,665 “unit chiefs” from 471 urban communities.

In the past four months, the mechanism has proved to be very effective, not only improving the ability of communities to deal with major emergencies and consolidating the achievements of epidemic prevention and control, but also laying a solid foundation for full resumption of production and life, said Zhang Xingqiao, director of the municipal civil affairs department.

Zhang said that the grid chiefs are full-time primary-level social governance workers, and those in charge of buildings and units are volunteers and residents.

Faced with the tasks, the chiefs formed chat groups on WeChat, allowing any information about the epidemic to be reported and dealt with as soon as possible.

The chiefs were tasked with disinfecting common areas in buildings, patrolling communities, and screening for virus infections, said Zhou Yuguo, deputy director of the municipal civil affairs department.

“When new cases were reported in the city of Jilin (with the same name as the province), over 100 km from Changchun, we were under great pressure, but the mechanism of ‘three chiefs’ played a significant role in safeguarding the city,” said Xie Wenlong, an official with the civil affairs department.

In Yinrong Community of Changchun’s Lyuyuan District, “three chiefs” have worked with community workers to conduct more than 3,000 screenings, helping quarantined residents buy provisions and disinfecting common areas, said Chen Chunmei, director of the community’s committee.

Nowadays, as the epidemic wanes, the “three chiefs” mechanism still plays a part in the daily lives of residents.

“Now with the establishment of this mechanism, emergencies such as blockage of sewer pipes and water leakage can be solved quite fast,” said Nie Fengying, with the committee of Dongshun Community in Erdao District.

The system has led to improvement in the capacity of community governance. Xu Ke, with the policy and regulation office of the municipal civil affairs department, said that in Changchun’s Nanguan District, 2,598 staff members from government offices and public service enterprises have participated in grid-based management, solving problems of local residents that “three chiefs” reported.

As grassroots social governance goes from grid-based management to buildings and units, the residents have a broader platform to contribute to communities and nurture better neighborly relations, said Wang.

The “three chiefs” mechanism in Changchun showcases the strength of China’s grassroots social governance system. It can act as a model for epidemic prevention and control and is crucial to the fight against COVID-19, said Song Guilun, a social governance expert with Beijing Normal University. Enditem

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