Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 5 years 6 months ago

Information form Local Conacts:

1. "Mr. X" (3/13/13) Day 5

As I was hiking on the half day trip, I met one of the candidates for the new mayor of a neighboring village. His name is Mr. X and he is going to win the election. I asked him a few questions and he told me about his job and being the mayor. His main goal is to change the people's point of view. Before, everyone was devoted in earning money and they believed that money could solve everything. Now, Mr. X needs to make sure everyone understands that there are other things that are important such as health care and education. He kept doing speeches but generally, most of the elderly do not like this new concept. Mr. X keeps trying to persuade the residents but only young adult's points of view are changed. Another responsibilty is that he and a group needs to help solve the citizens problems. Unlike some other cities, every action must be reported to Mr. X and the action may only carry on if Mr. X and a few government people accept the idea. Even Mr. X must get approval from Beijing in order to become the new mayor. Mr. X said that the group of people also helps him decide things and helps him with helping the community. Finally, he answered one of my questions. The new mayor is not decided before the current mayor retires. There must be an election every three years where anyone older than eighteen are eligble to elect. Before, the new mayor was the current mayor's son. Now, the system has changed because it was not fair for other people. This system is becoming more like democracy but people from older times do not like this new way, mainly the elderly.

This is relevant to my questions because this information is about the mayor. I could see what the mayor does and why. Most of his imformation led me to an answer for one of my questions. This was precious and valuable information because it comes right from a new mayor. The questions on comparisons and differences are not relevant to the research. These questions are what I will answer once I have all my information.

The information I got from Mr. X has two different point of views in it, his own and what other people think of this new concept. His point of view is different from the elderly. The elderly still likes the way Mao Zedong ruled instead of this new system. I can see the evolution of the governance in Mr. X's village. One of my questions was to compare Ancient China governance with Xizhou's governance. I can see the change over about fifty years from my interviews. This moves me to one of my questions on the similarities and differences in Ancient China and Xizhou because Mr. X's village is near Xizhou and Xizhou might be somewhat similar to the neighboring village. This helps me understand more because this is in the middle of the transformation of the system. Though this does not directly answer my question, this may help later on. The information on the mayor accepting an idea helped me understand more about the people who help the mayor. As I predicted, most of the work that the mayor does, needs help from a group of selected people. They help the mayor choose whether or not to accept the idea that was raised by a citizen.

Besides the information on helping the citizens and getting the mayor's approval, none of this information was what I had predicted. I always thought that the governance in this village was like ancient China. It was complete opposite and almost like democracy. As I predicted, the mayor might help the citizens solve problems. The citizens might have problems but may be to difficult for the citizens themselves to solve. I also thought that most of actions done by the citizens, such as building a new home, must go to the mayor for approval. What I did not know was that the election winner must also go to Beijing and get acceptance. Finally, I also predicted that there are a few people who help the mayor do his work. The mayor cannot handle most of his work. Like the USA, the new laws passed down from the president must go to a group of people who decide whether or not that the law should be passed on.

The mayor's main job was a surprise to me. I never thought that the point of view of the elderly had effect on the mayor. I also did not know that he needed to spend a lot of effort and time in changing the point of view. This raised a new question; how does the point of view of the citizens affect the mayor and the governance system. I also thought that the mayor's place was inherited instead of elected like in ancient China. Even if it was elected, I thought that the election only took place within a small group of people instead of anyone above eighteen. This surprised me because since the village is in China and China is communist, I thought their government might be similar to communism. Instead, everyone here can vote and have a say in who the new mayor will be. I did not know the evolution in their governance was fast as it is. I predicted the system in being similar to ancient China. Instead, the governance here is up to date like any other city.

Some new questions:

1. How does the point of view of the citizens affect the mayor and the governance systems?

2. How much effort does it take to change the point of view of the people?

3. When did this new systems take place?

4. Why is this system different from China's?

 

Some answered questions:

1. What does the mayor of the town do on a daily basis?

2. What are some major problems the mayor needs to focus on?

6. How are the mayors elected or chosen?

9. How are ancient Chinese structures and procedures like Xizhou’s? How are they different?

 

2. "Mr. Z" (3/20/13) Day 12

As we ate dinner with Mr. Z, he explained his feelings and thoughts on governance. He is a former governance man and former solider. Mr. T first introduced him to the group a week before and I hoped to interview him. He told us about his job in the government. He is like an approval officer mainly for marriages. Everything that happens in a village must go to the government for approval and marriages was what Mr. Z controlled. Sometimes, he would have to decline the marriage. He also told us about his thoughts. We asked him which kind of government was better, before or now. He said that each one had its own pros and cons. He said that now the government is not that strict. Finally, we asked him about the mayor's job. He listed four things that the mayor mainly does. The mayor approves the items that come up for approval. For example, if a person wanted to move somewhere else in the country, they would need to go to the mayor and get his approval because if everyone could move anywhere, then the big cities such as Shanghai would have too many people. The residents could not just move anywhere. Another job the mayor needs to do now is to improve the citizens living conditions. Like Mr. X, the mayor in Xizhou also needs to change the citizen's point of view. The mayor also collects taxes. This raises a new question; what does the mayor do with the taxes. Mr. Z thinks that about fifty percent of the taxes go to the central government in Beijing, another twenty goes to the province and the rest might be used for village expenses. My question about what the uses of taxes is asking what the mayor uses the last thirty percent of taxes on. Lastly, the mayor does not make laws, however, he enforces them from the central government. This answered my previous question about how the mayor makes laws but did not answer my question on how the laws are enforced. Similar to Mr. X's village, Mr. Z said that every four years a new mayor is elected. Xizhou is not like the central government and everyone gets to vote.

 

This answers many of my questions. One major question it answered was about what the mayor does on a daily basis. He approves, improves, collects and enforces. He also told me about his own thoughts on government. Every type of government has its own pros and cons. This information is valuable because it comes to an elderly who was a formor government official and he had seen lots of change in the village of Xizhou. Mr. Z would know a lot about governance and the change over time. He could even escort us to the village hall and we would be able to see the mayor.

 

The mayor does not make any laws. That surprised me. I thought each village had its own specific rules with the addition of major laws from the central government. That answered my question about how laws are made and raised a new question; how are the laws from the central government passed down to Xizhou. This also answered my question on the mayor's main job. The mayor's jobs are similar to Mr. X's village. Another question that was answered was about the elections. Everyone gets to vote unlike the central government. Mr. Z mainly told us about the mayor and his own feelings and I hope to keep asking him other questions about the people that help the mayor and the jobs there are. There are a few jobs that I know of, approval for different actions.

Before interviewing Mr. Z I had a slight idea of Xizhou's government from Mr. X. Even though the villages are completely apart, the government might be similar. Most of the information that Mr. Z said agreed with what I predicted. The mayor needs to enforce laws, collects taxes and finally, he approves items. From Mr. X, he told me that he needed to approve things that the citizens bring up in the government. From what I know about governance, the mayor usually collects taxes and enforces laws.

What I did not know was that the mayor does not make new laws. I thought that the mayor also makes specific laws that only apply to his/her own village. But the mayor does not make laws; he/she enforces the laws that the central government has.

Some new questions:

1. How are the laws from the central government passed down to Xizhou?

2. What does the mayor do with the taxes?

 

Some answered questions:

1. What does the mayor of the town do on a daily basis?

5. What kinds of jobs are in the government?

7. How are laws made?

 

3. "Mr. L" (3/26/13) Day 18

I had difficulty interviewing the Xizhou government. It is natural that foreigners are treated differently and I respect that. We are guests here and I did not know that we had to fill out an application to speak witht the Mayor and I totally understand. I was surprised but with a few interviews with local residents, I was able to get some information.

I learned that the government has a hierarchy. It is mainly divided in two different parts. One part supervises the government. The other part is in charge of different things. Every time a new mayor of the town is elected, the workers there rotate their jobs. Because this is management, each person must learn how to do all the jobs so they understand what they are doing. The part that supervises people is split into another two groups. One makes sure everyone's point of view and thinking are the same and effective. The other job is like the parents. They go around asking if the workers jobs are done, if they finished the project or if they have collected the tax. The other part is where the work takes place. There are different types of departments such as corruption, civil affairs, secretarial, statistical, administrative logistics, education, science, cultural departments, health and other departments. There is even an environmental protection department.

In each town there are about ten administrative villages. In each of those villages, there are about ten natural villages. Therefore, in each town, there are about a hundred villages. The way laws are enforced in Xizhou is not what I was expecting. What I expected was where the central government passes it down to Xizhou and they enforce in a formal manner. When there is a new law, the central government passes it down to the province, Yunnan. Then Yunnan passes it down to each city, Dali. Then Dali passes the law down to each town, then administrative village then finally natural villages. Sometimes, the mayor gets a group of representatives to inform each citizen about the law. Some other times, they put big posters up on bulletin boards in a public area and paste the new law on. Each citizen will go check the bulletin board everyday for big events and news and they will surely see the new law. There is a public area right across from where we stay. This method was new to me. I did not know it would be this informal. A meeting, passing on the representatives or maybe even mail may be formal but this type of method was different. It could be easier for the government to put it up instead of sending a lot of mail to each household.

A new mayor is elected every three years. Everyone above eighteen may vote, including women. The voter must be eighteen before, or on the Election Day. Their election system is similar to a democratic government.

Finally, I learned about the mayor's goals. He wants to have a major achievement during his course of three years. The city may have lots of tourists and the mayor might want to improve the tourism there. The city might also have a good wheat production and the mayor might want to improve that. Since tourism can be improved in three years but wheat production takes a long time to improve, the mayor will choose to improve tourism because he wants his achievement to be noticable.

This is relevant to my questions because the information is mainly about the mayor and answers most of my questions. I learned many things that my previous sources did not tell me about. I learned about the jobs in the government which is an important factor on the government. I also learned about another topic, laws. I previously learned that the mayor does not make the laws. Instead, the central government makes the laws and all the mayor does is to enforce them. During this interview, I learned how the mayor enforces them and the differences with America and in our school. I also got to learn about another topic, election. I confirmed the information from my interviews with my other two sources. I also got to answer one of my questions that I hoped would be interesting, what is the mayor's main job/goal.

Most parts of the information directly answers my questions. Some information such as, pasting information on a bulletin board moves to an answer. One question was how the procedures are alike Ancient China. This method of pasting new laws on bulletin boards may be from Ancient China where they did not have technology and instead, put it up in a public area where everyone goes to.

Some parts of the information agrees with what I already believe. The way the laws are passed down from Beijing to Xizhou was what I predicted. Before I learned about the election and the information confirms my information from before.

The hierarchy was unknown to me until this interview. I was able to see the hierarchy and the different jobs in the government. I learned how the hierarchy worked and who was in charge of everybody. I did not know that there was a hierarchy. I just thought that everyone had equal jobs. I also did not know that everyone rotates after a new mayor is elected. Everyone must learn about each part of the government because everyone in the government must learn how things are managed. I did not know that this was what happened with in the government. From my previous interview with Mr. Z, I learned that he was an approval officer for marriages. He also said that he did not have any other job. Either he must have worked for less than three years, or this concept of rotating had not come up when Mr. Z was working.

Some new questions:

1. How are laws passed down from each province/city?

2. When did the concept of rotating workers through jobs appear?

3. Do the workers in the managment of the government portion of the hierarchy rotate with everyone else?

 

Some answered questions:

2. What are some major problems the mayor needs to focus on?

3. What kinds of help does the mayor get?

5. What kinds of jobs are in the government?

6. How are the mayors elected or chosen?

8. How are laws enforced?

Mr. Z

1. How are the laws from the central government passed down to Xizhou?

 

 

Information from my 3-5's:

 

Most of the elderly liked the way Mao Zedong governed. I interviewed an old shopkeeper and in her house, there was a huge portrait of Mao Zedong covering advertisements and random posters. I asked her if she liked the way China is governed now and all she said was that Mao Zedong is the best. She did not tell me why she thought Mao Zedong was the best. I do not understand why the elderly like Mao Zedong that much. He issued the Great Leap Forward, which led to the biggest famine in Chinese history. Thousands of people died from that but the old shopkeeper still loves the way Mao Zedong ruled. This raised a question; why do the elderly like Mao Zedong.

 

Phase One Background Information:

In Imperial China, when small families moved to the rural area and stayed there, a small community started to build up. They elected a member to be in charge of the village affairs. The citizens might choose a few members to assist the mayor to perform tasks. Larger communities branched out into a few small ones and one mayor in each. Some factors that are looked at while electing are age, education, reputation, physical ability and sometimes the social status. They made laws based off of Confucianism traditions. Some things they looked for were respecting elders, working hard and helping others (1).

In China, there were 3 different religions. One was Confucianism. The main idea was that people could achieve peace by doing their duty. If citizens fought against the emperor, there will be lots of fighting and violence (2). Another belief was that all people should respect each other. They shouldn’t do something to someone something that they wouldn’t want to be done to them. Another strong belief was called filial piety. This is where a kid should treat their parents with loyalty. The father is the head of the family. The oldest child gets respect from younger siblings (3). It focuses on the proper behavior according to one’s rank. No matter at work, at school or at home, everyone should act like they should.

 

Answer to previous questions:

1. What does the mayor of the town do on a daily basis?

The mayor usually solves the citizens problems. When the citizens have a conflict, the mayor might try and somehow solve it while benefiting everyone. The mayor also has four other main tasks. He must approve the ideas that the citizens come up with. For example, if the citizens want a new library, the mayor needs to approve it. He/she also needs to improve the living conditions of the citizens by building more public spaces and sometimes, changing their point of view. The mayor needs to collect the taxes from the citizens. He sends some to the provicinal government and the central government. The rest, he can pay the government workers and build public restrooms, wiring and parks. Finally, enforcing laws is another task the mayor needs to do. Laws are passed from the central government to Yunnan. Then to Dali and finally to Xizhou. The Xizhou government must pass it on to the citizens in a method such as pasting them on a bulletin board. The mayor may have other smaller tasks, but these are the main assignments that he needs to achieve.

2. What are some major problems the mayor needs to focus on?

In a smaller village, the point of the views of the citizens may be to try and earn money. In that smaller village, the elders learned that from the Cultural Revolution and the past fifty years of Chinese History. Now, China is growing and money is not the main problem. The mayor must change their point of view in thinking of health care, education and to improve their self esteem. The mayor needs to advertise this new concept in order for the village to become peaceful.

Another job a new mayor may focus on is to achieve a great achievement. Achieving something big will get the mayor a good reputation and maybe become well-known. The mayor must achieve something in his three year term. So objectives that take longer time might be avioded.

3. What kinds of help does the mayor get?

The mayor gets lots of help. There is a hierarchy where the jobs are shown. Some important information may be more helpful to the mayor than others. Some jobs that are helpful are the approval office, land and resources department and a few more.

4. Does the mayor get advice? If so, from who?

No he does not get advice.

5. What kinds of jobs are in the government?

There are many different types of jobs varying in all topics spliting into two parts. One part is like the "police" of the government. They make sure the workers thinking is correct to make sure there are no political fights. Another job is the monitor the improvment and accomplishments of the workers. They will go up to them and ask if they have finished their job or goal.

6. How are the mayors elected or chosen?

The mayors are elected like a demorcatic government. Every three years, a new mayor is elected. Everyone above eighteen on Election Day will be permitted to vote.

7. How are laws made?

Laws are not made. Instead, they are passed down from the central government.

8. How are laws enforced?

The central government passes it down to each province, in this case, Yunnan. Yunnan then passes it down to every city. Dali will retreive the information and pass it down to every town and the town will pass it to every administrative village. The village will pass it down to each representative of each natural village or even post it up in a public area where all citizens and residents go to check for new news and information.

 

With this new information, I am able to move on to my final phase of this project.

 

Comments

Role of Women?

I have really enjoyed reading your insight into rural, small town governance in China. I too was surprised to here how "democratic" it seems at that level in terms of who gets to vote. I think you are raising some interesting questions. I look forward to hearing your answers to the other 30% gets distributed for town expenses and how those decisions are made. One question I thought of while reading your entry was what the role of women is and has been in the past. Do women ever get elected as mayor or "assistant"? Have women always voted? Keep reporting out your findings!! Enjoy your time!

I am from Chicago. I have two other siblings. I was new to SAS and China. I have lived in Chicago all my life. I play piano, tennis and enjoy basketball. I also love traveling but I have never been away from my home alone for more than one month. Xizhou was a very beautiful rural town and I got to appreciate the weather, air and scenery during my stay there. I haven't been to a lot of places on the west side of China so the trip was valuable to me. I learned as much as possible here and took a lot back with me to Shanghai.