Urban Communities, A New Area For Change

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I. Introduction: Urban Communities, a New Area for Change Since 1996 there has been an extraordinary upsurge in community development in Chinese large cities, and this upsurge tends to be intensifying. The first to act in this regard was the Shanghai Municipal Government, which unveiled the reform plan for “two levels of government and three levels of management” at the Working Conference on the City Proper of Shanghai in March 1996. In 1998 the plan was extended to cover “two levels of government, three levels of management and four levels of network,” serving as a prelude to the reform of the urban management system. At the end of 1998, Beijing and Guangzhou put the promotion of the reform of the neighborhood management system on their agendas as the central issue in their efforts to improve modern urban management.1 Different people have different opinions about this, but it is generally held that “small communities cannot be expected to accomplish anything great.” However, some people have failed to notice that this upsurge in community development is absolutely not the same as before. It demonstrates that the independent, self-governing and participation awareness of Chinese city residents was awakened for the first time. It is also the result of their struggle for their own interests. In addition, it is the outcome of the government’s efforts to change itself, seek a new converging point among danweis (units), city residents and the government, delegate powers to
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