Urbanites, especially those who have their own real estate property have been a vigorous force in pushing community democracy. Some of them voluntarily form into groups to learn the rights and responsibilities of a citizen. Let's take a look at how they build up community self-governance.
It's Thursday evening at 8 o'clock. For Mr. Bei Ye and his neighbors, this is their weekly group date to study citizenship and community.
Their studies are unofficial. Participation is voluntary and participants come and go as they wish.
Today's topic of discussion? The responsibilities of a citizen. For Mr. Bei Ye, the host of this gathering, responsibility is essential for community democracy.
Writer Bei Ye said, "China is now in a transitional period. The government has come up with policies and laws to encourage community self-governance. But as the subjects in our community, our homeowners and community residents lack the necessary training for that. It's not enough to know the concept of democracy. We also need to learn how to participate, discuss and make decisions."
Bei Ye has been trying to promote the awareness of citizens in his community over the past few years. And he's starting to see some results. Yinfeng Community is one of the first in the country to directly elect its Property Owners' Association Committee. And interactions between homeowners and the property management company are running smoothly, quite uncommon in China's urban areas. But for Bei Ye, there is still a long way to go.
Writer Bei Ye said, "We need more legal means and measures for development. Some officials at the grassroots level also need to improve their understanding of democracy. The law allowing community committees to organize in cities was passed in 1989. It defines such committees as self-governing organizations. But implementation is difficult and the problem lies in people."
Earlier this year, the community threw a big party on its 4th Neighborhood Day. Almost every family showed up to celebrate with its neighbors. They had reason to believe that tomorrow's community will be even better than today's.