context: Mention of the ‘Maple Bridge Experience’ in the Party media has waxed and waned in recent months, especially as the conversation about the nature of local governance has focused on the community and street level. Here is a further redefinition of the concept.

Zhejiang’s Zhuji Party Secretary Xu Liangping 徐良平 hails the ‘Fengqiao (Maple Bridge) Experience’ (枫桥经验) as the banner of national grassroots governance, stating it has been continually practiced and updated in Zhuji for 56 years, earning the city fame as its birthplace.

Social governance is an important aspect of national governance. For Zhuji, it is a matter of power and pressure. Especially in the Internet era, Xu states, the demand for innovation of mass work mechanisms is higher, especially given the airing of contradictions and opinions online. Accordingly, Zhuji authorities

  • moved city mediation offices to the Internet
  • connected online and offline efforts
  • enabled online case-filing and video mediation
  • moved conflict resolution from ‘door-to-door’ to ‘online’
  • launched an online broadcast platform for dispute prevention

The focus of governance is at the grassroots level, and on services, Zhu says. In order to solve the problem of inconvenient handling of affairs, Zhuji authorities have promoted one ID card and ended redundant business procedures. Grassroots governance is a tricky task, and the satisfaction of the masses is a touchstone. Only by more emphasis on the concept of ‘governance for the people’ and refocus implementation on ‘service is governance’, can achievements in providing better services yield results for governance.

We should not only make good use of social forces to broaden ideas of governance, but also make good use of market methods to explore new ways of governance. In recent years, Xu notes, Zhuji has pushed the focus of social governance and services down to the grassroots, addressing such problems as a large immigrant population and dangerous housing.