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School of hard knocks teaches cadres some tough lessons

Updated: 2011-03-11 07:28
By Wang Yan ( China Daily)

Crisis management skills vital as society embarks on era of rapid change, reports Wang Yan in Shanghai.

School of hard knocks teaches cadres some tough lessons

Officials from Dafeng city, Jiangsu province, take part in a government training course in Shanghai, focusing on crisis management to meet the needs of a changing society. [Photo/China Daily]

As 56 government officials from the city of Dafeng in Jiangsu province sat for a government training class in Shanghai, normal administrative work gave way to lectures.

Officials morphed into attentive students, listening with curiosity as Professor Li Min began her crisis management session at the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong (CELAP).

"China has entered an era where emergency incidents stack up. Dealing with emergencies is like solving math problems. No matter how many you've solved, the next is always a new one," she said.

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The class, designed for officials across the country, was like any other class in most universities in China and is part of the reform plan issued in August by the central government to properly train its cadres. The plan calls for institutes across the country to refresh their training programs in terms of ideas and content.

CELAP, and other institutes like it, includes leadership academies, governance academies and Party schools. One of the goals of the central government's plan is to train cadres to effectively solve problems because cadres - according to the central government - "lack focus and timeliness; training institutions are not open or competitive enough; and trainees lack self-motivation or the right attitudes."

But in recent years, institutes to train government officials have opened new courses to help them adapt to the fast-changing Chinese society.

"It's important that training materials are up to date. Chinese society is changing so fast that cases from 30 years ago would not work anymore," said Feng Jun, executive vice-president of CELAP.

'What would you do?'

One of the classes involves crisis management, fast becoming a must-learn topic in many training programs. In her class, Professor Li opened the three-hour course with a small welcome speech. Soon afterward, she put the students into group discussions on specific cases.

"A large number of workers gather around their factory for labor disputes. What would you do if you were the mayor?" Li asked the officials.

Loud Dafeng dialects then filled the classroom. Twenty minutes later, representatives from each of the six groups explained their reaction plans.

Cao Jiageng, who works in the CPC Dafeng committee's organization department, was in the third group. His group decided that the city's mayor should arrive on the scene as soon as possible to speak directly with protesting workers. Officials should also ask company executives about the dispute immediately. They suggested that in the shortest time possible, a press conference should be held to inform the public about how things are being solved to prevent any rumors from flying around the city.

Li gave an affirmative response to the plan, and she reminded students to pay attention to protecting key infrastructure as crowds gather during a dispute.

"Our goal is to transform students' ideas . . . from an 'almighty' government to a service type," said Li, 37.

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