Pandemic Control in China's Gated Communities
Christine Loh (ed) How COVID-19 Took over the World: Lessons for the Future (Hong Kong University Press, 2023).
26 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2022 Last revised: 13 Jan 2023
Date Written: July 1, 2022
In explaining China’s performance to date in containing the pandemic, commentators have attributed this to the Chinese Communist Party’s (the Party) decisive move to lock down cities at a high social and economic cost and to the capacity both to mobilise human and material resources to build hospitals to isolate those infected with the virus, and to send medics and support to the most infected cities to treat patients. Another feature that has characterised the Chinese strategy and is receiving increasing attention is the broad societal participation and the ability of residential communities, shequ, to enforce Stay-at-Home (SaH) orders, enabling residents to respond to the pandemic and to comply with pandemic control measures with resources and confidence. In what was dubbed by the Party as the people’s war against the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese urban communities have showcased the effectiveness of the unique governance style in activating participation and inducing compliance.
China’s pandemic control measures and the SaH orders take place within neighbourhood structures. Community mobilisation forms the core of the Chinese pandemic containment strategy and has proven to be the most crucial aspect of China’s strategy to date. Even the experiences in Shanghai’s lockdown in 2022, when the shequ system was stretched to a breaking point under the stress, prove, in a negative way, that there is no alternative to the existing urban design, calling for further solidification, reenforcement, and legitimisation of the existing social and political system of the Chinese neighbourhood in the post-crisis era. In coming out of the crisis, shequ governance, with all its innovation and upgrading, will remain a public–private partnership under the renewed leadership of the Party at the grassroots level.
Keywords: shequ, xiaoqu, residents committee, neighborhood police, grids, grid monitors, COVID-19, political trust, censorship
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation