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City's 'whole-process democracy' on display

By XING YI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2022-07-21 09:13
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It's a hot summer afternoon in mid-June, and after gulping down a bowl of instant noodles, Zhu Guoping begins a meeting with two officers from the local bureau of market supervision in her office in Shanghai's Changning district.

The meeting aims to find ways of resolving potential disputes between residents and organizers of group-buying, a new way of purchasing daily supplies that emerged during the city's recent two-month-long COVID-19 lockdown.

Having served as a deputy to the National People's Congress for 15 years, and as a community worker for over three decades, Zhu knows what concerns residents the most, as well as what topics are being discussed in online forums and chat rooms.

"Although most tuanzhang (organizers of bulk-buying orders) are nice people, quarrels can occur when the deliveries don't meet everyone's expectations, and in some cases, the tuanzhang even manage to make a little money in the process," Zhu told the officers.

"What are their legal responsibilities?" she continued. "I think we should look into it and ask the government for administrative guidance. After all, this is becoming a new kind of occupation."

Zhu is a genuine practitioner and the best witness of what China refers to as its "whole-process people's democracy". President Xi Jinping first advanced the concept during a visit to Changning's Hongqiao subdistrict in 2019. It's a system designed to ensure that all major legislative decisions are formulated democratically and generated through scientific, democratic decision-making.

After the meeting with the officers, Zhu received a visit from a construction company manager who had come to discuss inquiries from residents about installing elevators in old apartment buildings in the neighborhood.

"It's always been busy like this. Although I've formally retired from the post of neighborhood Party secretary, people still call me 'the premier of the alley', and I don't want to slack off and risk losing their trust," she said.

The 64-year-old earned her nickname for her dedication to resolving one seemingly trivial task after another, such as finding work for the unemployed, redesigning compound parking lots and solving quarrels between neighbors.

Zhu first began working in the Hongchu residential compound in 1991 and went on to serve as Party chief of its community committee from 1998 until 2018. After retiring, she opened a studio to train community workers from across the country.

In recent years, she has devoted much of her time to gathering public opinion on legislation, after the National People's Congress set up a contact point in Hongqiao, one of four pilot grassroots legislation contact points created across the country, in 2015.

Leveraging her friendly relationship with residents, Zhu and her army of 300 "information officers" have been gathering suggestions for draft laws sent to the contact point, so that citizens can discuss them and share their opinions with lawmakers.


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