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Social Governance Innovations in Xinyang: The “Take-as-family Method”: An Interview with Party Secretary Wang Tie (王铁)

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Editor’s Note Xinyang (信阳), which lies in an old revolutionary area of Henan Province, is a city with a large population and abundant agriculture. Issues such as unemployment among former military service members, village land use, relocations due to urban expansion, and unemployment, resulting from various interrelated historical and practical factors, have caused great numerous social disputes and tensions and have gravely impacted the stability and development of local society. The accumulation of these tensions have led to highly active petitioning of the government, both by letter and in person (and often by groups in person), a practice that has become “the” issue in Xinyang and an important task for local government. Under the strong leadership of Wang Tie (王铁), Xinyang’s “number one”, and through many years of mass work and letter petition work, a concept has emerged in Xinyang, along with a set of institutions and some working methods. These have come to be called the “Take-as-family Method”: “to treat the petitioners as family members; to take the letters from people as letters from your family; to view the troubles of the people as troubles of your own family; to take the issues of the people as your family’s business”. In this way, the reputation of Xinyang’s government has been remolded and the style of public servants as well as institutions and systems have all been greatly improved. The practices have received “political recognition” from high levels and top-down “experience promulgation”. One might say that the “Take-as-family Method” embodies the new measures of Xinyang’s social management innovations; furthermore, they have significant import as a reference during this time of acute social tensions in Chinese society. Upon this basis, in early September, 2011, a group led by the Director of the NGO Research Institute of the Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management, Professor Wang Ming (王名) traveled to Henan’s Xinyang to perform a survey of the “Take-as-family Method.” This writer thus had the fine opportunity to conduct an in-depth interview with Xinyang’s “number one”, Secretary Wang Tie. We not only discussed the “Take-as-family Method” he has personally initiated; we also entered his deeper thoughts, with all their unique concepts, consternations, and ideals.


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