Many have argued that a good government is known for its ability to respond to the needs of its citizens while taking into account the best interests of its people.
It has however been proven that good governance is an ideal that is difficult to achieve in its totality.
Nevertheless, as seen in some parts of the world, with proper actions, it is possible to work towards this ideal with the aim of making it a reality.
In the match towards a moderately prosperous society, for instance, China has been in pursuit of enrichment of its population. The rapid speed of development witnessed recently reflects the historic changes taking place in modern-day China.
It is a known fact that when the Communist Party gained control in 1949, China was a society where most people were poor and followed a basic agricultural way of life.
To change its fortunes, reach the top and transform the welfare of its citizens, China began by addressing some of the major aspects of a nation’s development, such as the economy, health, and education. It did this with a primary driving principle of investing in its people and serving the people.
This is why in the 1980s, the CPC leadership introduced a number of reforms in areas of agriculture, industry, science & technology, as well as the military in order to make China an important industrial nation and whose success would benefit everyone in the country in the long-term.
Firstly, to overcome a high illiteracy rate and become a great power in human resources, China made schooling compulsory. Every child now must attend school for at least the first 15 years, paid for by the state. The vast majority of children attend state-run schools.
Prior to these reform in the education sector, there were huge differences in the quality of schooling between urban and rural schools. Local government was expected to provide funding for schools and often the poorest provinces had little money to invest in new facilities or teaching staff. Thousands of children of migrant workers also did not have the right to a place in a local school.
Secondly, to support agriculture, the government has made it easier for farmers to access credit so they can invest and increase their farm incomes.
Farmers have also seen their taxes cut and increased agricultural and technical support is offered to farmers to make farm businesses more viable. Besides, with the freedom to develop their farms and sell their produce in the marketplace, the income of farmers has risen.
Growth of non-agricultural sectors also provides rural people with job opportunities. Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs) grew much faster than urban industries. These enterprises collectively owned by peasants were the origin of rural industries that formed the backbone of China’s development.
Soon after the founding of PRC, farms were run as collectives. There was a little financial incentive to work hard and so agricultural output was low.
But the CPC introduced the Household Responsibility System which allows farmers to work the land as owners and to make a profit. Farm output immediately started increasing. Today food shortages are much less of a threat to China than they were in the past.
The other area that has seen great reform in China is the healthcare sector. For years, the health care system was of poor quality. It was not comprehensive and was too expensive especially to the rural poor. This prompted the government to introduce the New Rural Co-operative Medical Care System to make health care more affordable.
Under this scheme, about 40 per cent of the cost of an individual’s healthcare is paid for by the central government, another 40 per cent is paid by the provincial government while the remaining 20 per cent is met by the individual citizen. In this scheme, the state will cover roughly 80 per cent of their bill.
The CPC has also been in pursuit of Healthy China 2020, a program to provide universal health care coverage and treatment for all of China by the end of this year.
The other thing that attracted the attention of the state and the party was the problem of unbalanced development.
Compared to two decades ago, and to further achieve rapid and sustainable economic development, the government has increased investment in infrastructure, such as roads, electricity production, water distribution amongst others in rural areas. Many of these projects have opened up the interior of China to investments.
It is well-known that millions of Chinese people left the countryside in search of work in the cities. The number of these migrants kept growing because work in the cities was normally better-remunerated on top of greater opportunities compared to the countryside.
Yet in the past, it was illegal for people from the countryside to go and live in the cities without a permit popular as “hukou”. This system linked every citizen to a home district outside of which workers had few rights, most notably welfare benefits, medical care, or schooling.
Since 2005, however, the government started relaxing the permit system and abolished the temporary residence permit after a realization that the Chinese economy would benefit from the reduction of labour restrictions.
All these initiatives developed over time collectively by the party and the state was a direct response to the needs of the citizens amid efforts to grow the country’s economy while putting in place a stable social and political environment.
The people-centered philosophy now appears fully ingrained in the DNA of China’s governance system which in every aspect gives the impression that it is serving its people well. This, in turn, appears to have reduced the disconnect between civilians and the state and instead mobilized the population to rally behind the government and its policies.