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Risk prevention and management key to governance modernization

Author  :  Shen Nan     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2020-04-16

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, China has taken nation-wide measures and launched a level 1 public health emergency response. The pandemic has not only challenged China’s risk management capacity, but also pushed a series of issues into the spotlight.

The relationships between humans and nature, humans and humans, and humans and society are constantly undergoing adjustments and upheavals. As a result, human activity and its impacts on nature and society are unpredictable. A government that is responsible for its people should be mindful of potential risks. Meanwhile, it is a complex task to establish a governance system that can manage social risks. The key to building this system is to reduce unnecessary procedures and simplify processes. While prioritizing the preparation of general strategies, decisions and plans, it is necessary to set up a grass-roots autonomous response mechanism for emergencies, which can help us gain more time and protect more lives.

Precautions lie at the center of social risk management. This requires policy-makers to be visionary. Each major disaster follows a pattern as it comes into being and evolves. When the Chinese people defeated SARS in 2003, we were acutely aware of the connection between viruses and wildlife. Nevertheless, we should have known that successful disease prevention and control measures are not done once and for all.

Social risk management involves many sectors and social actors. The organizational structure involved is complex, and the accountable departments tend to overlap one another. In the past, the accountable governing body was obscure. Consequently, the masses tended not to understand the actual departments that were responsible during the crisis, which would lower people’s faith in the government in general.

To increase the efficiency of risk management, it is necessary to clarify the responsible bodies and their responsibilities. During the outbreak of COVID-19, the work of prevention and control was carried out in an orderly manner from top to bottom. Under the unified leadership of the central government, each district, county, village, community and building fulfilled their responsibilities, and we effectively curbed the spread of the epidemic.

Science should lead risk prevention. Scientific progress is the prerequisite for mankind to understand and tackle various risks. In the past, humans could not understand many natural phenomena and human diseases in a scientific way. As science has advanced, humans began to explain many things in the language of science. Scientific concepts and methods have contributed greatly to risk prevention.

For example, when conducting risk prevention and assessment related to professional knowledge, we must listen to the professionals. By letting experts all over the world play a bigger role in risk assessment, decision-making and risk management, we can come up with more accurate and scientific strategies. We also need to figure out the best way to resolve the crisis when an earthquake or epidemic breaks out in a densely populated metropolis or megacity.

Media should also shoulder their social responsibility when social risks exist. As a channel for the spread of social information, media has a unique social responsibility: to timely, promptly and truthfully notify the public of the potential damage that may occur to their lives and assets.

In conclusion, risk prevention and management is important to the modernization of the social governance system. We need to fully understand the characteristics and patterns of risk in different areas of society, and we must build a strong risk prevention network. In so doing we can minimize the impact of dangers and even turn them into opportunities.

 

The author is an assistant professor with the School of Journalism and New Media at Xi’an Jiaotong University.

 

(Edited and translated by Weng Rong)

Editor: Yu Hui

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