By Xinhua Writers Meng Na, Huang Yan and Mou Xu
BEIJING, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Every year, dozens of delegations make "pilgrimages" to an urban community of 120,000 people from all walks of life in central China's Wuhan City. They are looking to understand the remarkable sense of harmony achieved by Baibuting.
The recipe, residents say, is active and responsive Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations. Through Party groups set up in every apartment building, a Baibuting invention, some 6,200 CPC members listen to and help out residents, building a trusting relationship that enables the community to solve neighborhood issues and ensure a safe, enjoyable living environment.
When the CPC opens its 18th national congress on Nov. 8, enhancing its relationship with the people will be an important goal driving policy decisions. With a task to realize prosperity for China, the CPC will continue to count on the support of the nation's 1.3-billion-strong population.
Lessons on how to guarantee that support are readily available in Baibuting's success story, while there are plenty of cautionary tales from elsewhere.
In recent years, some Party officials have turned a blind eye to the interests of the people and used the office for personal gains, leading to grave public grievances and even conflicts between citizens and government.
Last year, Wukan, an obscure village in south China's Guangdong Province, grabbed international headlines when its residents staged three waves of large-scale rallies in four months to protest officials' illegal land grabs, corruption and violations of financing and election rules.
One year after disgruntled residents staged a mass rally, progress has been evident in the village's self-governance. Order was restored after a senior provincial official held talks with villagers in December, and election of a new village committee was held earlier this year.
In 2009, the CPC Central Committee adopted a resolution to "strengthen party building under the new situation." The central committee warned that some grassroots party organizations are weak and lax, and some Party members lack membership consciousness.
Not so in grassroots party committees like the one in Baibuting. Wang Bo, vice-secretary of the Baibuting community CPC committee, says, "We won trust and authority by getting things done one by one for residents."
In urban communities in China, affairs are usually managed by different departments such as self-governing resident committees and property management companies. In Wang's view, resident complaints are often the result of buck-passing between these departments, so the community CPC committee must take responsibility for coordination.
One example of how Baibuting's Party management has played out came several years ago. A public square built for fitness and entertainment activities soon became popular with users. But then the problem of noise arose. Some complained that outdoor karaoke on the square was too loud and disturbing; while those engaged in the sing-alongs insisted their practice was for health and must continue. Neither side was willing to yield.
Complaints from both sides flooded into the community Party committee office. According to Zhang Jitao, the office head, the situation at the time met the requirements for the launch of a procedure that the committee designed to specifically handle major community issues.
The committee held a meeting first with representatives from both sides, but the difference was unbridgeable and fierce quarrels forced an early end to the gathering. The committee then sent Party members to personally hear opinions from each side.
Survey questionnaires incorporating contrasting views were sent to over 10,000 residents not long after. The research showed that over two thirds of the respondents supported noise control. "For us, the survey results meant authorization," remembers Zhang.
The community administration committee, which works under the Party committee, drafted a noise control convention based on the survey. It set limits on the use of karaoke speakers in terms of volume, time and place. After the convention was proofread by legal experts, it was adopted in a vote in the community's resident assembly. To enforce it, the Party committee organized patrols.
"The effect of our measure was immediate. We met little resistance, because it's a measure supported by the residents. They had the final say," says Zhang.
Through this procedure, the community has also solved other issues like disorderly parking.
The CPC committee of Baibuting is not alone in innovative approaches to grassroots management. In southwest China's Guizhou Province, the Party committee of Xinshi Village spends three whole days every month consulting with local residents over village affairs. It was all through consultation that the village decided to build more roads and determined the amount of compensation to be paid relating to construction land.
In Yuanbao Village in China's northernmost province of Heilongjiang, the Party committee has a morning meeting every day to address people's complaints and demands. Depending on importance, all village affairs have to be decided in meetings of the Party committee, Party members, villager representatives or villagers.
As a deputy to the 18th CPC National Congress, Baibuting's Wang Bo has been preparing for discussions during the summit and she will share her experience in strengthening party-people relationships at the grassroots.
"It's through every little tiny thing we do for citizens that we can implement the Party's principle of serving the people. People's affection for the Party will in turn accumulate bit by bit so that the Party can win their support," she says.