Some Reflection on Participatory Budgeting in China: Minhang District Case Study
Over the past few years, China has made rapid progress in participatory budgeting, and citizens have raised their interest and political participation in government finances to new heights. This is the result of a combination of factors. Participatory budgeting reform has taken on multiple forms and dimensions, which, on one front, has improved the system’s ability to fulfill the citizens’ rights to information, supervision, advice, and even decision-making and, on another front, improved and supplemented China’s democratic political system by promoting government performance and improving scientific and meticulous budget management. Having recognized the necessity and significance of participatory budgeting reform in China, we cannot ignore the fact that there still exist some problems in the depth, breadth, and the comprehensive effect of the reforms. For example, the public foundation for reform is weak, there are flaws in the institutional design, and the reformers are not fully aware of the significance of the reform or misunderstand it. On the whole, as Chinese socialist democratic political construction and the government administrative system reform move further and deeper, motivations or pressures from different sources will inevitably require more changes in traditional participatory politics, and participatory budgeting experiments will become more dynamic. Therefore, based on close observation of and speculation about participatory budgeting experiments at local government levels, this paper, taking Shanghai’s Minhang District as an example, analyzes the characteristics of public participation in local budgeting reform and puts forward some thoughts on the reform, in the hope of providing some useful ideas for the promotion of future participatory budgeting reform.