Reform of decentralisation and diversification of urban local government authorities
The development of communities and urban governance in Wuhan
In China, urban governance reform and decentralisation reform are inter-related. After municipal authority was granted to the districts, urban management moved from a “one level of government, one level of management” structure to a “two levels of government, two levels of management” one. After the transfer of district authority to neighbourhoods, urban management then switched from a “two levels of government, two levels of management” structure to “two levels of government, three levels of management”. Then, with the decentralisation of government authority to community-based organisations (including mainly statutory organisations for local community management such as neighbourhood committees, Communist Party organisations, representative bodies, problem-solving committees), these organisations have gained a certain level of autonomy. The urban management structure thus gradually moved from “two levels of government, three levels of management” to “two levels of government and four levels of management” (also for semi-autonomous community-based organisations). The reorganisation of urban local authorities and public resources has therefore afforded the public improved access.
This paper reviews governance and decentralisation reform in Wuhan, which has moved from “two levels of government, four levels of management” to “two levels of government, five levels of management”, and emphasises that the fundamental element of this process is the diversification of local government authorities. This diversity perfectly facilitates the gradual and efficient decentralisation of urban local government authorities: increasing the number of governing bodies, outlining and establishing a hierarchical order of authorities within local structures and encouraging them to participate. The diversity of authorities will therefore be endogenous and a multi-lateral governance model will develop. This model will include interactive dialogue at all levels and will lead to good governance.