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                            Experts discuss how best to modernize urban governance

                            Author  :  MING HAIYING     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2020-06-02

                            A Huawei urban rail cloud platform Photo: XINHUA

                            The transformation and reconstruction of the urban governance system has become a major item on the agenda of China’s modernization of national governance in the new era. In 1978, China’s urban population was 170 million, accounting for 17.9% of the total figure. In 2015, this figure increased to more than 770 million, comprising 56.1% of the population. Rapid urbanization has urged the modernization of China’s system and capacity for urban governance.

                            Urban governance problems have become more diverse, dynamic and complex, requiring answers beyond the threshold of traditional urban governance systems and capacities. Tang Huangfeng, a professor from the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Wuhan University, said that when city construction moves too fast it leads to less scientific and more fragmented urban planning. Some metropolises develop overpopulation and an excess of industry, which has led to traffic congestion, social anxiety and other urban diseases.

                            Wang Dianli, a professor from the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University, said that urban agglomeration and diverse modern society require the improvement of overall city competitiveness and also an active response to the multiple needs of modern society. In particular, a new round of information and technology development represented by the internet of things, cloud computing, mobile web and big data raises new requirements for the modernization of urban governance while making their realization possible.

                            “Urban development must be based on cities’ historical genes and pay attention to the city’s future prospects,” said Xia Zhiqiang, vice dean of the School of Public Administration at Sichuan University. He believed that it is necessary to plan comprehensively and carry out specialized research in the aspects of governance concepts, governance systems and governance capacities.

                            Wang said that to build a modern governance system adaptive to China’s urban situation, we should uphold the principle in which Party committees exercise leadership, the government assumes responsibility and non-governmental actors provide assistance. Party building helps construct the cohesive core of a united society. We should efficiently supply public services under the government’s guidance and utilize social collaboration to stimulate social vitality. In city governance, we should optimize public services, strengthen the support of urban development and sustainability, and make up for any shortcomings in public services. In addition, we should improve the level of smart technology in social governance and public services with the help of information technologies, actively cultivate social organizations and enhance their ability to participate in public services and social consultations, and then establish a social governance model based on collaboration, participation and common interests.

                            Refined governance, as a new type of governance paradigm, reflects on, criticizes and transcends the traditional extensive and empirical government model. It represents the basic direction of modernization of urban governance and is the leading strategy for urban governance and development going forward. Tang claimed that it is necessary to follow the philosophy of service first, govern through diverse and collaborative government subjects, adhere to digital and intelligent governing methods, and implement standardized governing principles. Meanwhile, we should shift the focus from empirical and qualitative analysis to scientific and quantitative analysis, develop a proactive, consistent and legal urban governance system, and continuously increase the openness and inclusiveness of the urban governance system.

                            According to Han Fuguo, director of the Center of Comparative Research of Urban Governance at Fudan University, the governance structure of the modern city should include the following layers: meta-governance of the city from the perspective of urban ecology and planning; hard governance from the perspective of law and public power; soft governance from the dimension of society and its citizens in order to achieve democracy in urban communities and co-governance of public affairs by diverse entities; smart governance from the perspective of technology and information so as to efficiently utilize modern technology to optimize resource gathering and spatial allocation.


                            (Edited and translated by WENG RONG)

                            Editor: Yu Hui

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