China / Politics

Book initiative aims to improve local officials' governing skills

By Wang Qingyun In Huichang, Jiangxi Province (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-13 07:35
Editor's note: After visiting Huichang, a county in East China's Jiangxi province, in April, China Daily made another trip in late July to discover more about the efforts the Huichang government has made to not only develop the county's economy, but also improve its governance and cultural atmosphere.

Officials in Huichang, a county in southern Jiangxi province with a population of about 530,000, are being encouraged to read more books by both Chinese and foreign writers to improve their governing abilities.

The activity, which was officially launched in March last year, is called "Lanshan Reading" and was initiated by Cai Xiaowei, the county head.

The original reading list contained just 12 books, including Xi Jinping: The Governance of China by the president, but this year's list contains 23 books and covers a wider range of topics to better understand trends at home and abroad.

In addition to traditional best-sellers, such as Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the reading list includes a critique of Industrie 4.0, a strategic initiative related to a manufacturing technologies by the German government, and a graphic book to educate people about legal issues.

A number of books about improving governance at the grassroots level, and others related to environmental protection and sustainable development have also been recommended.

Peng Changchun, head of the county's finance bureau, is one of a large number of officials that have joined the literary trend.

"The activity has improved the bureau officials' knowledge, broadened their vision and improved their abilities to think about questions and do their jobs," he said.

One of the books Peng has read is a collection of essays by D. Gale Johnson, an economist from the United States, that focus on issues related to China's agricultural sector, rural areas and farmers.

Peng said the book "objectively displays some situations in China's rural areas nowadays".

Peng is seeking inspiration about how financial resources can be used more efficiently to lift rural areas out of poverty, and how rural residents can become more involved in the governance of their home areas.

Song Zhensheng, who also works for the county's finance bureau, has been inspired by the activity. "When you see these books in the office and at home, you feel an urge to read that you haven't felt for a long time," he said.

"Reading them will gradually improve our mental world, and we are experiencing a change from being asked to read books to wanting to read them," he said, adding that he usually spends an hour reading outside working hours every day.

Huichang has now given out more than 123,000 books free of charge.

Officials who have joined the activity are required to make notes regularly and attend a monthly reading salon.

Chen Huimin, deputy head of the organization department of the county's CPC committee, the department in charge of the activity, said next year's reading list will be released soon.

"This reading activity will only be strengthened, not weakened," Chen said, adding that an increasing number of people are joining the campaign to obtain greater knowledge from the books.

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