When Shen Biao was elected as the head of Beiguan, a village in Shanghai, in 1986, villagers there were not only financially strapped but also legally ignorant, often trying to end their disputes with fistfights rather than law-based resolutions.
It was also around that time that Shen realized that legal education for villagers was as important as economic development and infrastructure construction.
In the 34 years since 1986, which was also the year when China launched its first five-year law publicity campaign, Shen and his colleagues have been working unremittingly to disseminate legal knowledge in the village in an effort to raise villagers' legal awareness.
To him, the 1990s was a critical time as private enterprises spawned in the village, employing large number of workers from out of town.
During that period, Shen organized various activities like lectures and free consultations to help employees and managers digest laws closely related to their areas of interest such as contracts, trademarks and antitrust provisions.
He invited legal professionals like lawyers, judges and prosecutors to explain legal knowledge in plain language, laying a solid legal foundation for the village's future prosperity.
As a result of Shen's persistent effort, Beiguan has emerged as not only an affluent village with an annual revenue of 32 million yuan ($4.63 million) and an annual output of 1 billion yuan but also a rural demonstration of promoting democracy and rule of law.
Nowadays, villagers can take in legal knowledge even in their leisure time in various local facilities including a rule of law-themed park, a gallery and a library, immersing themselves in abundant legal elements.
"This year marks the final year of China's seventh five-year law publicity campaign," noted Shen. "Law publicity has already taken root in villagers' minds and become part of their daily lives."
Ministry of Justice of the
People's Republic of China