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Characteristics of All-round Development of Social Functions in the Pudong New Area

September 14, 2020

The development of Pudong has in fact experienced the evolution and dual development from the material level to the cultural and institutional level, and then over to the level of people. This is also the result of the district’s long-term adherence to the concept of all-round development of social functions and practical strategies.
Pudong's development and opening up is not only an epitome of China's reform and opening-up over the past 40 years-it is also an important symbol and model of a series of reform achievements in the social and economic development of contemporary China. From the outset of the development and opening-up of Pudong 30 years ago, the district has clearly put forward the idea of "adhering to the high starting point, wide range of areas and all-round opening up", whose development and opening-up is not only the development of economic functions such as projects, land and funds-It also symbolizes the all-round development of social function, focusing on ensuring and improving people's livelihood, urban and rural community construction and development, and improving the social well-being of residents and the quality of social services.
At the beginning stage of Pudong’s development and opening-up in the 1990s, many aspects in the development of social undertakings and social construction were relatively lagging behind and faced many bottlenecks. The "shortcomings" of social functions centered around people's livelihood, such as education, employment, housing, social security, medical and health care, and community services, not only failed to meet the needs of rapid urbanization in Pudong New Area, they also seriously hindered development and opening up. In the early stage of its development, Zhao Qizheng, the first director of the Pudong New Area Administrative Committee, clearly posited that "The development of Pudong should be social development" and focus on "all-round social progress". For example, right at the beginning of the establishment of Pudong New Area, a “Social Development Bureau” was set up to be fully responsible for the planning and management of culture, education, health, medical care, science and technology, sports, civil affairs, labor insurance and community development, and undertook a lot of government responsibilities for social development. In 1995, during his visit to Pudong, Mr. Fei Xiaotong also pointed out that the study of Pudong was a major sociological task and called for more sociologists to delve into the study of Pudong's development and opening up.
Since the 21st century, especially after Pudong New Area became the national pilot area for comprehensive reforms in 2005, the development and opening-up of Pudong further highlighted the new reform direction of "upholding the all-round economic and social development as the goal, giving full play to the superposition effect of reform policies as the basis, and popularizing the successful experience of pilot projects as the means". The reform is essentially designed to shape and cultivate a new system and reform model for the smooth construction of the scientific concept of development and a harmonious society, which involves all aspects of social and economic life in the breadth of reform. This holds true especially in the further strengthening of development of social functions, and has touched upon many core issues of the system when opening-up reached new depth. It is also a process of rebuilding social functions in an all-round way. For example, with the rapid development of Pudong, there emerged conspicuous imbalances in urban and rural development and community management. In view of this situation, Pudong New Area focused on the coordinated development of urban and rural areas, promoted the reform of eliminating the obstacles of urban-rural dual structure system, explored the reform of district and town management system, introduced the advanced concept of urban management community into rural areas, and chose the Chuansha area to pilot ‘political and social cooperation’ to establish a mechanism featuring community co-governance and citizen’s participation in civic and political affairs. In the aspect of social function development, the district spared no effort in policy formulation, system construction and improvement, and actively explored and promoted social governance system of all-round development of social functions. It established and improved the basic public service system with the purpose of facilitating the people, with the community as the leverage, and featuring the integration of urban and rural development with moderate inclusiveness. It also set up a public-facing social welfare system that engaged in portfolio investment, multi-level development and offered specialized services. At the same time, Pudong has been constantly improving the so-called "three social linkage" mechanism, i.e. with the community as the platform, social organizations as the carrier, and social workers as the handle, to carve out the function of attracting investment from subdistrict offices. It instead established a government service platform and specialized social service platform focusing on people's livelihood, and through coordinated reforms in the form of "government service procurement" and a series of reforms on the decentralized and specialized management of social undertakings. These efforts have vigorously cultivated social organizations and professional social work teams, promoted the all-round development and application of social functions in the aspects of system and mechanism, governance system, service content, as well as organizations and talents.
Therefore, I believe a complete urban new area development process should at least include the following three aspects: First, the opening-up of infrastructure, ecological environment and investment attraction, such as land, transportation, construction, and projects, which mainly serves as an external material basis for the development process; Second, the growing ‘urbaneness’ of a city’s political, economic, cultural aspects and its living conditions, systems and social psychology, which represents the process of spiritual, culture and system development; Third, people’s gradual shift towards modern citizens in the way of thinking, behavioral habits, individual quality and value propositions, which is a process of self-development and self-construction as a modern urbanite. In the past 30 years, the development of Pudong actually includes these three levels of material development, cultural and system development and the development of residents themselves. Moreover, the first level of development has mainly exhibited materialism in ‘quantitative’ terms, whereas the latter two aspects have highlighted social and cultural aspects in ‘qualitative’ terms. The development of Pudong has in fact experienced the evolution and dual development from the material level to the cultural and institutional level, and then to the level of people. This is also the result of the district’s long-term adherence to the concept of all-round development of social functions and practical strategies.
(Author: Wen Jun, Dean of School of Social Development, East China Normal University, and researcher of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era Research Center in Shanghai)