Neighbourhood Governance in Urban China

Neighbourhood Governance in Urban China

Edited by Ngai-Ming Yip

As the economy and society of China has become more diversified, so have its urban neighbourhoods. The last decade has witnessed a surge in collective action by homeowners in China against the infringement of their rights. Research on neighbourhood governance is sparse and limited so this book fills a vital gap in the literature and understanding.

Chapter 6: Loyalist-activist networks and institutional identification in urban neighbourhoods

Shengli Guo and Xiaoyi Sun

Subjects: asian studies, asian geography, asian politics and policy, asian urban and regional studies, politics and public policy, asian politics, regulation and governance, urban and regional studies, urban studies


The loyalist-activists' (jiji fenzi) network is considered the cornerstone of the Communist Party of China to ensure that city administration penetrates to the grassroots level. Loyalist-activists volunteer in helping residents' committees with cleaning the neighbourhood, conducting censuses, organizing residents' committee elections and delivering governmental policies to all residents. If residents' committees are honoured as 'nerve tips' of the state (Read, 2003), the loyalist-activists' networks form the 'nerve tips' of the residents' committees. During the World Expo in Shanghai, for instance, hundreds of loyalist-activists were convened to patrol the neighbourhood and to propagate policies to residents door to door. In fact, the loyalist-activists' network could be perceived as a continuation of the Communist Party's traditional grassroots mobilization mechanism during the revolution period. The residents' committees, established shortly after the founding of the People's Republic of China, were entrusted to shoulder such mobilization work at the urban grassroots. Although, as time has passed, the residents' committees have become ever more bureaucratic when a wide range of administrative tasks have been assigned to them, the loyalist-activist tradition still plays an important role in policy implementation and mass mobilization. Under the danwei (work-unit) system in the pre-reform period, loyalist- activists' networks played a significant role in all kinds of organizations, especially state-owned and collective enterprises.

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