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Xinhua: China has elections for alleyway presidents!

hutong_democracy_s.jpg
Hand-drawn democracy propaganda in Beijing's hutongs
China's cities have recently been holding elections. Not for the city or even district governments, but for the people who sit on the neighborhood committees (居委会) of urban areas.

What does your local neighborhood committee do?

Good question. The neighborhood committees are responsible for implementing Party policies at a very local level. So in the Cultural Revolution, neighborhood committees helped persecute class enemies, whereas today, they help the police to ensure no criminals loiter in a neigborhood, get involved in legal disputes among residents, and generally act as the eyes, ears, and broomstick of the Party at a micro-level.

However, the rise of the property-owning class may mean that the neighborhood committees become more powerful. Many new property owners become livid when the management companies that are supposed to look after their housing compounds neglect key duties like trash collection, or charge previously-unmentioned fees for parking or central heating. The neighborhood committee is the easiest place to take the complaint, and the most convenient entry point to putting in a formal complaint to the government.

State-owned news agency Xinhua has an article about the neighborhood commitee elections posted on their forum, titled Big happy news! Urban residents start electing their own "allley way presidents".

Many of the comments about the elections seem to be written by mindless boosters, but there is a fair range of opinions, and Xinhua does not seem to be deleting the negative ones. Below is a small selection. It's also worth looking at the related posts by English-language Chinese bloggers Bingfeng and Wang Jianshuo, linked below.

From Xinhua's forum:

- We had this kind of election a few years ago: a fine start and a useless finish. And it's just a pretence at the lowest levels. Going up one (administrative) level to the selection of local area government... they will never let these officials be elected, forget about it.

- It's a great start! I hope it can continue?

- I voted two days ago. But to be honest, I didn't really know any of the candidates. I go to work early every day and return late, I don't know much about any of the people in our residential area, I don't even know who they are. So my vote was ignorant....


- Do you know who pays the salaries of the cadres in the neighborhood committees?


- Good! Having a little is better than nothing.

- The first light of dawn!

- Are there any guarantees of this written in the law?
 
If this is just some guidance from above, then isn't it just a show?

- Look how easy it is to satisfy our people!

- If housing prices don't go up any more, then I'll be happy.

- Who cares?

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There are currently 8 Comments for Xinhua: China has elections for alleyway presidents!.

Comments on Xinhua: China has elections for alleyway presidents!

I might have this wrong, but I believe the residents' committees also perform the lowest level functions of the Civil Affairs welfare networks, like identifying who's eligible for basic living allowance (底保) and disability benefits, which is a pretty significant power in the lives of the vulnerable in the community.

In US, we have "homeowners association" which is the equivalent of 居委会. Homeowners Association (HOA) are a bunch of douchebags that have too much time on their hands. They often sends out letters to remind homeowners to cut their lawn. Many people absolutely hate this HOA nazis.

Ju Wei Hui is different from Ye Zhu Wei Yuan Hui.

YZWYH is something that introduced recently while JWH was there for a long time.

you have to be an owner of the propriety to be elected into the YZWYH, and the main function of YZWYH is to protect the rights of the proprietors

Who ultimately controls the YZWYH?

YZWYH is controled by residents. if you bought an apartment in beijing, you have the right to be elected into the YZWYH if you are trusted by other proprietors of the same residential community. actually we have expat members be elected into the local YZWYH in shanghai.

JWH is different. like what you said, JWH is more like the functioning organs of the government in the lowest admin level, and some of the memebers are picked by the government and approved by the residents.

To what extent could a foreign resident participate in this if he or she was a property owner?

Oops, didn't refresh in time to see that Bingfeng had already answered that one.

Am I right in saying that YZWYH (bless me) are found in newer apartment complexes, and are only concerned with dealing with the property management company? There's no government / public welfare function? That's how I understand it currently.

We haven't got one yet in our complex as it's just opened recently, but the management company has decided that we all need to have a 出入证 as well as our keycards and keys, so I may well form one. Fight the power!

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