An Introduction to Community Compacts in China

Emerson Niou
Chinese Society Press
2014

In contemporary China, civil society hardly plays any function in governing. The Chinese government, under the leadership of the communist party, intentionally prohibits the development of civil society but relies exclusively on the state machine to provide governance, which, not surprisingly, leads to inefficiency, inequity, injustice, and corruption in local governance. In this book, to show that a set of well-integrated local self-governance institutions was widely used in historic China, including moral codes, community granaries, education, and security, the author compiled and annotated twelve notable community compacts practiced in China since the Northern Song Dynasty. The compacts served to improve community harmony through “mutual encouragement of virtue and meritorious deeds, mutual correction of faults, mutual association in rites and customs, and mutual sympathy in calamities and hard times.”