After noticing a dispute regarding compensation between two villagers, 68-year-old Wang Weixian immediately went to conduct mediation to settle the conflict.
He learned that the drain of one resident's apartment was leaking water, which damaged the wall, furniture and floor of the downstairs apartment. However, the two sides had disputes over compensation.
Wang, a mediator in Xiqing district of the Tianjin municipality, used to be the head of the village's security team before he retired, and has since trained to assist in legal matters at the grassroots level.
In the leaking water case, both sides were emotional. The upstairs resident thought that the downstairs owner was asking for too much in compensation, while the other thought his demands were reasonable.
During the mediation, Wang listened to both sides and informed them of related laws and encouraged a common-sense approach. Finally, the upstairs resident promised to pay for the repairs of the downstairs apartment and pay out compensation.
"I've been working at the grassroots level for a long time and have the advantage of being familiar with the people and things here," said Wang. "So it is relatively simple for me to conduct mediation and promote the law among local residents."
In November, six departments, including the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Ministry of Justice, issued guidance for training such grassroots mediators.
According to the guidance, by 2025, each village will have at least three such people, selected from individuals such as village cadres, auxiliary police officers, or retired officials or teachers, it said.
The candidates will be trained on the country's Constitution, the Civil Code, the Party's policy concerning agriculture, and laws and regulations in areas including epidemic prevention and control, food and drug safety, production safety and wildlife protection.
Public legal services will be made available to the group to provide professional guidance and help.
Those who qualify need to have the ability to promote the concept of the rule of law, collect public opinions, guide local residents on how to access public legal services and mediate conflicts. These people will be registered in local judicial divisions, and those who violate the law or discipline or fail to perform their duties conscientiously will be dismissed, it said.
Tianjin has so far trained nearly 20,000 people like Wang.
Besides offering law-related services, this group of people have also played a vital role in the ongoing epidemic prevention and control work.
In the Gaochun district of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, over 1,000 people have accepted legal training to publicize laws and policies on epidemic prevention and carry out the verification of people returning from other places around the country.
Zhou Fulian, deputy director of the Jiangsu provincial department of justice, said that the group plays a leading role in the demonstration of law-based governance, and they are able to quickly resolve disputes on the spot, which reduces the workload at the grassroots level.
"They have been a new force for the public to participate in grassroots social governance," she said.
Jiangsu has selected some 129,000 such people, covering every village. They have collected 24,000 public opinions on legislation, conducted 52,000 activities to promote the rule of law and resolved 230,000 conflicts and disputes.