On a sunny spring afternoon, Yang Xiaoyan, a 69-year-old resident in Huocun village, Xingtang county, Shijiazhuang city, north China’s Hebei province, was playing Chinese chess with his old fellows at a newly built leisure square, or the activity center for senior residents.
The leisure square covers an area of more than 1,000 square meters and is equipped with various kinds of exercise and leisure facilities, including a ping-pong table, a table for chess and card games, stage for performance of traditional Chinese opera, a rest pavilion, and a cultural corridor designed to promote traditional virtues among the Chinese nation, such as filial piety and righteousness.
Just a few months ago, senior residents of Huocun village were upset that they couldn’t find a suitable place to take physical exercise and enjoy leisure activities. Things started to change in September 2021, when the Xingtang county committee of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), held a “mobile consultative meeting” in Huocun village to hear villagers’ voices and suggestions.
“Now that we can eat well and dress well, the only one more thing we would like to have is a place for leisure activities,” said senior residents of the village at the meeting.
After the meeting, the CPPCC committee of Xingtang county immediately carried out discussions on the issue with the housing and urban-rural development bureau of the county and the government of Zhili township, and they eventually decided to build an activity center for senior residents on a tract of idle residential land in the village. The construction of the activity center was completed in merely three months.
The “mobile consultative meeting” is one of the mobile consultation platforms launched by the CPPCC Xingtang county committee.
To facilitate the work of the CPPCC committee at the community level and strengthen the communication between political advisors and local people so as to further tap into the strengths of the CPPCC committee as a dedicated consultative body, the CPPCC Xingtang county committee has carried out “mobile consultative meeting” near people’s homes to better engage local people in discussions on matters involving them since August 2021.
“By holding consultative meetings near people’s homes, we mean to encourage more people to take part in discussions on local affairs,” said Zhang Shengli, chairman of the CPPCC Xingtang county committee.
Although the matters discussed during consultations directly related to the interests of the people, they used to be unable to take part in these consultations due to various reasons, said Zhang, adding that participants in consultations organized by the CPPCC Xingtang county committee in the past were mainly officials and experts.
“Since it’s inconvenient for the people to come and attend the consultations, we decided to bring consultative meeting to their homes,” Zhang said.
The mobile consultation platforms launched by the CPPCC Xingtang county committee lay emphasis on both determining matters to be discussed during consultative meetings and finding and identifying problems through such meetings.
Teams led by officials with the CPPCC Xingtang county committee often organize consultative meetings at communities, villages, and factories to engage local people in the discussions of matters involving them. Once problems are identified at these meetings, political advisors immediately hold consultations with officials of local government and later invite relevant authorities to the spots where the problems occur to discuss solutions.
Such mobile consultative meetings not only offer the people an opportunity to speak out freely, but also involve various local authorities and government departments in the discussions on and settlement of problems and help CPPCC members better fulfill their duties, thus benefiting multiple parties, according to Zhang.
“We are going to make sure the ‘mobile consultative meeting’ is carried out in a standardized and more orderly manner and develop it into a special consultation mechanism trusted by the people, so that it can play a greater role in grassroots-level social governance,” he added.
Besides Xingtang county, other places across the country have also witnessed the exuberant vitality of grassroots consultative democracy, which has been applied extensively at multiple levels and given rich content.
The Chinese people have explored and initiated numerous popular and pragmatic grassroots forms and practices of democracy, from courtyard discussions to neighborhood meetings, from offline roundtables to online group chats, and from democratic discussions to “mobile consultative meetings”.
As more and more political advisors involve themselves deeply in grassroots-level democratic consultations to resolve the most pressing difficulties and problems that are of great concern to the people, the innovative forms of consultative democracy that emerge one after another in China are continuously injecting fresh vigor into the country’s whole-process people’s democracy.
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