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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

China revitalizes township governments to maintain stability (3)

(Xinhua)

14:30, November 26, 2011

Functions Marginalized

The township is the most basic unit of government in rural China. But its functions have been weakened and marginalized over the past decades, Ren said.

Before China's exemption of agricultural taxes in 2006, most farmers would complain to township officials when they came to collect taxes, according to Ren.

Now community-level officials are mainly in charge of distributing money -- including agricultural subsidies and funds -- rather than collecting money. Farmers are reluctant to turn to them for help, as they worry that they may be disqualified for funding if they raise too many complaints.

Therefore, the county-level government becomes the frontline for dealing with rural complaints, Ren said.

Ren also pointed out that officials from the township government are often too specialized to answer questions concerning areas of rural life that they are not familiar with.

To revitalize township governments, Anze county set up a unified administrative service center in each town to address people's problems and maintain social stability. Each service center also functions as a platform that combines government web portals with websites for the local discipline inspection department and police department.

Reorganizing local government functions is also helping to boost community-level officials' sense of responsibility, Niu said.

"The people are satisfied with us, and we have rediscovered the feeling of being needed by the people," Niu said.

(Reporting by Xinhua writers Gao Feng and Wang Xuetao, Writing by Zuo Wei.)

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