Aging communities not too old to change

Updated: 2012-12-18 09:03

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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Guangdong province is the testing ground for a series of social reforms, reports Zhao Yinan in Guangzhou.

Almost 12 months after villagers in Wukan, Guangdong province, made national and international headlines with their organized and, admittedly sometimes, violent protests, the coastal province is piloting more than 120 projects to reconnect with the public and avert future disputes.

One of the trials, in the Yuexiu district of the provincial capital Guangzhou, targets the lowest level of the social pyramid by urging the local government departments in charge of social affairs to withdraw from community affairs and allow residents to make their own decisions. Local officials said they hope the move will foster a greater civic spirit and make residents less reliant on government support.

Aging communities not too old to change

Cai Wen (right), 90, has her blood pressure monitored at a neighborhood clinic in Yuexiu district. [Photo by Liu Dawei / Xinhua]

Longzang community, in Yuexiu's historic old district, is part of a city that can trace its easy acceptance of change back to the 1900s, when China's revolutionary forefather Sun Yat-sen came to prominence. Sun organized several protests, including the famous Guangzhou uprising, which helped hasten the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

More than a century after the "flaming" years, Guangzhou has undergone a fundamental transformation; skyscrapers have been raised, spidery subways built and millions from other parts of China and abroad have poured into the harbor city in search of opportunities.

The Longzang project is being carried out at the most basic level and hinges on provision of facilities that may seem trifling to outsiders but are of huge importance to residents, such as mailboxes and trash bins.

Longzang retains a sense of tranquility, despite neighboring Guangzhou's busiest commercial thoroughfare, Beijing Street. Its history is not only emphasized by the flagstoned walkways and mottled walls, but also by the large number of silver-haired residents.

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