Social Governance on Demand

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Back to 1994, Wenzhou International Economic Law Firm was the only law firm engaged in international legal services in Zhejiang Province. Since the 14th CPC National Congress, some basic aspects of China’s social and economic life have gradually become law-based, providing an important guarantee for the country’s reform and opening up. Xinhua

As China has implemented the reform and opening-up policy for 40 years, the Chinese road and experience in the new era have become successful references for the world. Over the four decades, the reform and opening up has liberated the Chinese economy from its shackles, raised productivity, greatly promoted and accelerated the overall development of Chinese society, and extensively and profoundly changed social governance in China.

Over the 40 years of China’s reform and opening up, developments and changes in social governance can be roughly divided into three stages:

The first stage, from the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1978 to the 14th CPC National Congress in 1992, saw key breakthroughs in changing the highly centralized and planned economic system and social governance system by relaxing control of social governance and allocating resources to activate social development.

During the second stage, from the 14th CPC National Congress in 1992 to the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, China mainly built a framework of social governance compatible with the socialist market economy and actively explored new ways of social governance with Chinese characteristics to enhance the vitality of social development and build a harmonious society.

The third stage, from the 18th CPC National Congress to present, is guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. China is comprehensively deepening social governance reform, modernizing the national governance system and capability, and promoting vigorous, harmonious and orderly operation of society.


May 1, 2003: Medical staffers prepare for the new Xiaotangshan SARS Hospital to receive its first patients. The outbreak of SARS led to a comprehensive reflection on the public governance system by the Chinese government. The structure of public power in China targets openness, transparency, accountability and efficiency. Xinhua

With other countries’ experience as reference when modernization accelerates, the evolution of the social system and structure is often complicated and full of contradictions and variables. During the four decades of rapid and profound social changes, China has consistently maintained stability and comprehensive development. Chinese people feel they are well-served and happy with life. This is the most important and remarkable achievement in the field of social governance in China.

While seizing success, China has accumulated rich experience in social governance.

One important lesson is to persistently free the mind and work with China’s national conditions. The CPC holds the courage to examine society with global vision and the requirements of the era, and reform of social governance always reflects innovative trends of the times. China insists on responding to national conditions and exploring a road of social governance with Chinese characteristics. Like the reform concerning economic development and governance, the reform of social development and governance also involves self-improvement and development of Chinese socialism. China has always attached great importance to studying and drawing on the useful practices of other countries, but it has avoided blindly copying their models.

The people-centered approach relies on the people to innovate the concepts and modes of social governance. This is the fundamental reason China has achieved a series of achievements in social governance reform. Protecting legitimate rights and interests of the people and creating an environment that encourages creativity and innovation are key to truly achieving effective social governance.

At the same time, we should insist on overall and coordinated advancement and deepen modernization of social governance. In the information age, China has formed a large-scale and diverse network society with complexities and risks that make social governance more difficult. Experience in governance in this respect is that the CPC leadership always provides overall direction and coordination and plays the role of a leading core. While using modern information technology to improve the quality and efficiency of social governance, the Party highlights the accumulation of corresponding material and economic strength in line with socialist economic, political, cultural and ecological governance with Chinese characteristics, with an eye on achieving mutually complementary and interactive development.


The author is president of the China Society of Administrative Reform and dean of the Institute of Social Management, Beijing Normal University.

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