context: Central leaders have made clear their discontent with various village-level developments, including the increase in organised crime, and they have countenanced discrete local experiments in recent months. Now Beijing appears to be moving in a familiar manner: looking to impose a general solution in the form of a detailed template from the top-down.

Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) and six agencies issued ‘Guiding opinions on drafting village (urban community) self-governance compact’, stipulating that by 2020, all villages and urban communities should have their own self-governance compact that is legally compliant and accords with ‘core socialist values’. The ‘Opinions’ also prescribe regulations as requirements for the compact

  • daily behaviour, including respecting Party’s leadership, fulfilling legal and social responsibilities, participating in public affairs
  • public safety and social order, which concerns local environment, market order, public sanitation, public security, community building
  • protecting the rights of women and children
  • arbitration and mediation mechanisms
  • modernising and transforming archaic social norms, customs, values, culture and attitudes, particularly
    • extravagant weddings, funerals, and other celebration or memorial events
    • bullying of the elderly, unmarried women and widows
    • domestic violence
    • mafia and gangsters
    • prostitution, gambling and drug dealing
    • anti-intellectualism
  • legislation procedures
  • implementation and supervision by grassroots agencies, townships, villages, community-level authorities and councils, and other self-governance organisations
  • organisation and inspection practices