Ministry of Justice Web Site Highlights Flaws of Residents Committees, Points Out Their Lack of Independence

September 28, 2005

An article appearing on the official Ministry of Justice (MOJ) Web site highlights the flaws of China’s system of residents committees, which are the lowest level of urban government in China and are the urban analogue to the village committees found in rural areas. Local elections controlled by the Communist Party and government authorities determine the membership of these committees.

The article underscores a serious dysfunction in the system: many local governments treat residents committees as administrative appendages, controlling them by fiat and rarely permitting the exercise of independent authority or autonomy.

But reform of the residents committee system now appears to be on the national legislative agenda. According to the article, draft amendments to the "Organic Law on Residence Committee" will more clearly define the role and responsibility of residents committees with respect to local governments.