The Forum of "Social Contradictions and Social Governance" held in Nanjing (Part One)
On August 26, Social Contradictions and Social Governance Forum was held in Nanjing University, Xianlin Campus by Zijin Media Think Tank (ZMT), Nanjing Association of Petition Experts and the Center for Social Risk and Public Crisis Management Studies of Nanjing University. The forum consists of 5 units, with 15 experts from Chinese Academy of Governance, Tsinghua University, Fudan University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, South China University of Technology, Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, Nanjing University etc. giving keynote speeches. Besides, experts and ombudsmenfrom State Bureau for Letters and Calls, Jiangsu Bureau for Letters and Calls and Nanjing Bureau for Letters and Calls participated in the forum and gave their advice on how to diversely resolve social conflicts.
This forum is a companion to Forum on State Governance and Petition System Reform, which was sponsored by the same organizers in 2016. However, this forum attracted more experts and developed more research perspectives such as big data and online governance. Regarded as a one of the most influential platforms for communication and advice in the area of China social governance, the forum has drawn increased attention from government departments.
Prof. Tong Xing at School of Government, Nanjing University, Director of the Center for Social Risk and Public Crisis Management Studies of Nanjing University
The opening ceremony was hosted by Tong Xing, professor of School of Government of Nanjing University, and director of the Center for Social Risk and Public Crisis Management Studies of Nanjing University.
Prof. Yang Zhong, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of Nanjing University
At the opening ceremony, Professor Yang Zhong addressed that strengthening and innovating social governance is the target of the socialist modernization development. To improve social governance can maintain social stability and safeguard people’s well-being. The 18th CPC National Congress has attached high priority to the social construction, especially the multiple participants and multiple resolution mechanism of social governance. He appreciated that, “ZMT, in cooperation with Nanjing Bureau for Letters and Calls and the Center for Social Risk and Public Crisis Management Studies of Nanjing University, has been active in the studies of difficult cases and basic theories of petitions through calls and letters. The achievements they made has contributed a lot in social stability. This forum is to pool experts’ wisdom together to offer advice on improving the ability and efficiency of social conflicts resolution.”
Prof. Zhou Wenzhang, a CPPCC member and former dean of China National School of Administration
“The goal of social construction is to reduce the generation of social conflicts so as to tackle their root causes,” said Prof. Zhou Wenzhang, a CPPCC member and former dean of China National School of Administration, “It differs from resolving problems which focuses on finding ways to solve social conflicts. More attention should be paid to reduce the generation of social conflicts after resolving them. Otherwise, an abnormal phenomenon where we solve problems and we generate new issues would be formed.” “To reduce the generation of social conflicts incurred by government actions, governments should exercise power on the basis of trust and law and regard the exercise of power as a way to enhance social justice and improve people’s wellbeing,” added Prof. Zhou in his speech, “it’s imperative for governments and officials to pursue the goal of realizing people’s aspirations and eradicate all actions contending for profits against people, which is also required by General Secretary Xi Jinping, the Central Committee and the State Council and is the internal requirement to build a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepen reform, govern the country by the law, andstrictly administrate the Party. To resolve social conflicts means to prevent any dishonest, unfair and illegitimate actions. ”
Sun Kuanping, supervisor at the State Bureau for Letters and Calls
Sun Kuanping, supervisor at the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, regarded that themes of this event and the previous one are all hotspot issues in reform and development of current letters-and-calls-related work. “After years of research on theories of tackling letters and calls, we have made achievements in establishing platforms for and mechanisms of cooperative studies, conducting foreign exchanges with Russia, U.K., U.S., Germany and E.U., offering theories for a better work of letters and calls.” In his speech, Sun listed three important work aspects, which includes “enhancing the fundamental theoretical research on letters and calls work, strengthening specific research on the working mechanism, and focusing on realistic issues so as to offer reference for the Party and governments to improve decision quality, laws and policies and practical work.”
Kong Haiyan, deputy secretary general of Jiangsu provincial government, director of the provincial Bureau for Letters and Calls
In her opening remarks, Kong Haiyan, deputy secretary general of Jiangsu provincial government and director of the provincial Bureau for Letters and Calls, said that since the establishment of the ZMT and the Nanjing Association of Petition Experts, we have made excellent achievements in related theoretical research, resolving conflicts, proposing suggestions and safeguarding social stability. Since the 18thNPC, General Secretary Xi Jinping has attached great importance to the reform and innovation of the work related to letter and calls. He proposed that we should give full play to its advantages in delving into the people’s life, pooling their wisdom, safeguarding their interests, and uniting them in order to solve their problems in an active manner. At present, petition agencies at all levels in Jiangsu, guided by the people-centered concept of development, highlight the exploring of diverse solutions and comprehensive governance for striking problems, and at the same time try to enhance their professional proficiency and informationalization of their work.To broaden the channels of petition, the government has created a new mode of "Internet plus petition, which makes possible petition through cellphones, including WeChat. In terms of the application of big data, the government collects data on a monthly basis, and based on which conduct analysis and study so as to release influential special reports for the reference of the provincial Party committee and the provincial government. In strengthening grassroots governance, the government has doubled its efforts on grid management to extend the petition work to the grassroots community, reducing contradictions and any potential risks. At present, with the rapid economic and social development, the petition work is also facing complex situations and challenges, which requires quick actions to strengthen the diversified solutions for and innovative researches on social contradictions. Director Kong said that the forum has pooled together many forces, and she believed that experts and scholars can work together to push forward the diversified solution and innovation of social contradictions and make new contributions to the maintenance of social equity and justice.
Xu Jinhui, member of Municipal Standing Committeeof Nanjing, secretary of the Nanjing Municipal Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China
In his opening speech, Xu Jinhui, member of Municipal Standing Committee of Nanjing and secretary of the Nanjing Municipal Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the CPC, pointed out that in advancing an affluent and beautiful Jiangsu mandate, the municipal government attaches great importance to the work of petition by researching and employing it together with the overall plan of a town-wide reform, development and stability and by promoting and implementing it with the practice of party building studies. The government has conducted the R&D of an informationalized management system for harmonious petition, and put it into use. It has also established a new mode of petition work featured by transparency, convenience and efficiency. It strengthens its efforts on the petition work in accordance with law in order to maintain the order and improve work efficiency. The construction of the mechanism of third party experts involving in settling petition conflicts and petition research has been recognized by the national and provincial Bureau for Letters and Calls. Early this year, deputy secretary of the provincial Party committee and secretary of the municipal Party committee launched the city's activities to resolve the pending petition issues. At present, deployed by the provincial government, the city is taking special actions to identify, exam and resolve social contradictions and safety hazards. The municipal government has set the goal to realize "four guarantees" to create a harmonious and stable environment for the 19th NPC. One of the guarantees is to ensure that no mass petition happens. Secretary Xu said that to achieve this goal is difficult and challenging, and we need all comrades in the municipal petition system to shoulder their responsibilities, and further innovate the petition mechanism and operating methods so as to fully resolve contradictions for a harmonious and stable society. Meanwhile, he also called on all sectors of society to explain the theories for the government in terms of relevant hot and tough issues and offer them suggestions.
Min Xueqin, Secretary of ZMT, Senior Researcher, Professor at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing University, Doctoral Supervisor, chaired the first session of the keynote reports
Lan Zhiyong, Professor and Doctoral supervisor at School of Public Administration, Tsinghua University
In his keynote report "A Case Study on the Theories and Practices of Conflict Management Abroad", Lan Zhiyong, professor at the School of Public Administration and doctoral supervisor of Tsinghua University, touched upon his research from five aspects. First, the conflict theory holds that conflict is inevitable and universal. In this regard, social conflicts are everywhere, and where there are people, there are different interests and values, and thus conflicts. Social transformation and globalization have increased the frequency, diversity, and potential damage of conflicts, making conflict governance a key issue that cannot be neglected in public management and social governance and need to be deliberated on. Second, the conflict theory divides conflicts into various types, ranging from subjective to objective, from completely competitive to completely cooperative, from structural to non-structural, from individual to communal, and from general to revolutionary. Each type requires different governance method and strategy. Conflict itself is not necessarily a bad thing, some conflicts are destructive, but it can also be an opportunity for reform and progress, and the key is how to deal with it. Third, there are bystanders, arbiters and parties in conflict governance. The government often has to play different roles and adopts different methods in dealing with different conflicts at different times and spaces. Many public affair managers, although having received appropriate training, do not know what their roles are, how to work, what is the bottom line in governing. Fourth, the western social conflicts are many and varied, be they macro, mid or micro, through which we have accumulated some experience. Fifth, Lan Zhiyong cited a number of cases and experiences of conflict management in the west, involving spectators, arbiters and parties of conflicts, and supplemented with macro-, mid- and micro- conflict governance cases. Lan Zhiyong said that in modern society, conflict governance with hard power is costly but less effective, and may have sequelae. Therefore, we need theoretical research and practical training, law and culture learning to find and adopt various methods of conflict governance to ensure the long-term stability of our society.
Zhu Zhengwei, Professor and Doctoral Supervisor at the School of Public Policy and Management, Xi'an Jiaotong University
In his keynote report "On Improving the Risk Assessment Mechanism of Social Stability and Some Suggestions", Zhu Zhengwei, professor and doctoral supervisor at the School of Public Policy and Management, Xi'an Jiaotong University, proposed a series of questions and suggestions in his research of risk assessment mechanism of social stability. He believed that the main parties facing social stability risks exist in public policies are diverse with tangled interests relations and various links. Hence, public policy comes as a hard-won agreement on what the risk really is. There is not a “best” public policy that benefits all, but good policies that benefit most and are accepted by the majority. In terms of establishing the risk communication and coordination mechanism and innovating national governance system, he stressed that the risk assessment mechanism of social stability for key issues (referred to as "stability assessment") is an important institutional arrangement that removes social stability risks from the source and promotes the traditional stability model transformation. He also highlighted the importance of detecting the earliest signs of the risk and eliminating it from the source. The essence of "stability assessment" is that it not only serves as a restriction, but also a "safeguard" mechanism that resolves social conflicts from the source of risks, and helps reach a social consensus to promote the social construction. Therefore, a pressing matter of the moment is to play the functions of the mechanism, which is driven by science and democracy, in the decision-making of governments at all levels so as to resolve social conflicts and create social stability with a more positive attitude.
Kong Xiangyong, Deputy Secretary General of the CPC Nanjing Municipal Committee and Director of the Municipal Bureau for Letters and Calls
In the keynote report "Innovating the Social Governance Methods and Promoting the Long-term Stability of National Governance", Kong Xiangyong, deputy secretary of the CPC Nanjing Municipal Committee and director of the Municipal Bureau for Letters and Calls, elaborated on the prominent representations and main features of economic and social development in and out of perspective of petitions through letters and calls, and with the existing social problems and conflicts as the guidance, proposed suggestions to innovate the social governance and solve the short- and long-term social problems. He pointed out that the current reform was at a key point of economic transition, industrial restructuring, governance improving, old and new thinking transformation, and eastern and western culture conflicting, public service and resource allocation cannot satisfy the public need. To solve that problem, we need to legalize social governance, socialize the governance pattern, and diversify the governance measures to make the fruits benefit the public. On innovating the social governance and establishing public service system and platform for self-governance, he put forward specific opinions and suggestions that we should, under the rule of law, introduce mass organizations, social organizations, enterprises and individual citizens to participate in social governance through dialogue and consultation. It is imperative to diversify public service at the grass-root. Our service-oriented government should allocate more administration and management resources to the grass-root to create a favorable environment. He suggested that we should double our efforts in party construction at the grass-root and improve the functions of governments at the grass-root regarding providing service and managing, such as enhancing the service by subdividing the community; smoothing channels for conveying people’s opinions and information through visits; making the grass-root the major battlefield for problem-solving by promoting shared governance at the grass-root. Therefore, administrative organs at higher level and law enforcement departments should give priority to organizations at the grass-root, so that they will be the governance center in their regions, thus forming the synergy of shared and good governance.
Gao Xiaoping, Vice President and Researcher of China Administration Society
After the three reports, Gao Xiaoping, vice president and researcher of the China Administration Society, thought that the speeches were very enlightening. Professor Lan started from researches at home and abroad and gave us an overview of the social conflict theories, especially the classification of social conflicts, which brought us closer to all kinds of laws of conflicts. Professor Zhu started from risk, the middle of the social conflicts and social governance. Then he put forward his own findings in how to choose the variables and the evaluation subject, and how to further innovate the evaluation method when evaluating the risks, which helped us to detect the earliest risks possible. Director Kong started from the features of social governance at its key points, analyzed the new trigger of social conflicts and its new features, as well as the new rules and requirements of social governance, and suggested that under the new situation we should innovate the government’s methods in dealing with petitions by integrating the social, economic, legal, and administrative factors through the reform of the administrative system and of empowering governments at the lower level and enhancing government service. That suggestion was of strong theoretical and practical significance. Gao believed that the three reports had four things in common: (1) deep analysis of the social contradictions; (2) feasible conflict solutions; (3) highlighting the innovation of the institute of petitions through letters and calls; (4) combination of academic research and field practices. They all began with certain academic field, and found out the overall logic in social governance and management. Such logic helped us to find the location of the petition work, i.e. people-centered, to carry out research on social contradictions and social governance innovation, to make the people the masters of their own country through the rule of law, to strengthen and improve the party's leadership, and to realize the modernization of national governance.
Hu Xiangming, Professor and Doctoral Supervisor at the School of Public Administration, Beihang University, presided over the second session of the keynote reports.
Li Ruichang, Professor and Doctoral Supervisor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University
In the theme report "To Understand the Changes in China's Mediation System", Li Ruichang, professor and doctoral tutor, from the School of International Relations and Public Affairs in Fudan University first explained his research background. Firstly, he has devoted years of efforts in this research. And secondly, he gradually finds the system supply and the establishment of system for resolving social risks interesting and worth further exploration. In the report, Li Ruichang put forward two practical problems: the first is how to guide people to choose mediation method for resolving social contradictions and disputes. The second is how to deal with the amateurism and monotony of the composition of people's mediation committee. Li Ruichang believed that the establishment of a modern mediation system should be based on people, and the core is to make full use of people’s role in mediation so as to reduce litigation mediation and administrative mediation activities, allowing the court to focus on trials, not mediation. In this way, people’s mediation will share more responsibility in the mediation affairs. Professor Li Ruichang proposed that there are mainly three directions in letting all the parties willing to accept the results of mediation. The first direction is to let the judge guide people in mediation work. Second, let lawyers get involved in the people mediation by purchasing lawyers’ services. Third, let the relevant authorities play their role in the mediation so as to supplement the knowledge structure of people's mediation committee. Also, in dealing with civil disputes cases, people's mediation can be set as preposition procedure, which can reduce the burden on the people's courts.
In the theme report “Countermeasures for Petition Problem in Internet Illegal Fund-raising", Professor Song Jinsong, from the emergency management department in National Academy of Administration discussed petition issues relating to Internet illegal fund-raising by citing “e-rent incident” as an example. Combining the development of Internet finance in China, Song Jinsong proposed that on the one hand Internet finance can "ease information asymmetry, improve financial efficiency and reduce financial risk", but on the other hand "change will bring risks." In the specific analysis of network loan platforms, from P2P to P2B, P2C, and finally to the process and risks of A2P, Song Jinsong reviewed brutal growth trilogy: the real controller of e-rent, Yucheng International Holdings Group Limited, exaggerated the strength of enterprise; system vulnerability exists in governmental financial supervision; e-rent’s hype without constraints. Collecting the petition problems from more than 900,000 investors in 31 provinces and cities in China, Prof. Song constructed a crisis-solving model. The first step is to confirm the question: what happened, who is involved, and what the danger is. The second step is to choose from the three solutions which are under the guidance of anger management theory: to agree with the investor to initiate litigation, to return the assets by liquidation, to let the government provide funding or control the leading person. Based on this, Song Jinsong compared these three solutions from the political, security, economic, and environmental, ethical and other related perspectives.
Zhang Haibo, Professor and Doctoral Supervisor at the School of Government, Nanjing University
In the theme report "Big Data and Petition Management", Zhang Haibo, professor and doctoral supervisor at the School of Government, Nanjing University, pointed out that the network petition is a useful exploration of social governance innovation, and it plays a positive role in facilitating the masses to express their demands, in standardizing petition process, and in resolving social conflicts and improving working efficiency. Tracing to the source, network petition is an optimization of the traditional way of petition by letters and visits. The petition big data analysis is based on the further development of network petition, aiming at finding out the general rules and developing trends of problems. He believes that petition big data has gone beyond the scope of traditional letters and visits, and it need to be understood following the concept of petition management and relevant policy framework. And the key lies in the "cross-departmentalization of petition data, desensitization of petition study, and demystification of petition system ". Finally, Zhang Haibo pointed out that the future of China's petition system can be seen from the big data, if the optimization of public policy process can be achieved through the petition big data analysis, social contradictions will be solved from the source, and the function of petition system will be significantly optimized. Thus, a transformation from solving problems later to managing problem-sources earlier will be realized.
Lin Min-gang, Senior Researcher of Zijin Media Think Tank, Professor of School of Management, Nanjing University, Doctoral Supervisor
Lin Min-gang, senior researcher of Zijin Media Think Tank, Professor of School of Management in Nanjing University, and doctoral supervisor, commented that all these researches, by combining the Internet and big data with mediation system, focused on frontier issues. Professor Li Ruichang discussed how to construct a mediation system of modern China, and put forward solutions to the individual behaviors. Along with the concept, mechanism and organization, he built a framework of modern mediation system by integrating legal and practical knowledge. Professor Song Jinsong provided measures for dealing with Internet illegal fund-raising petition, which is a hot and difficult issue during the past years. Guided by problems, he focused on the process of Internet fund raising, especially from three stages of P2P, P2B, and P2C, and put forward a crisis-solving model. Professor Zhang Haibo proposed a new concept for big data and petition about how to look at petition by using big data under new historical conditions. The essence of big data is to share, match and interact with information, as well as to solve the problem of information irrelevance. Now, big data should enter the methods and mindset of petition work and become a new powerful weapon to promote the modernization process of national petition.