One chilly morning in early December this year, villagers of
Shuangtang village of Youth League County in Jiangxi Province
gathered together from all directions to elect their new term of
Wan Zhongwen, a 55-year-old man, first voted for himself and then
chose a different candidate to vote on behalf of his son, who was
working in Guangdong Province at the time.
Wan voted for the current village committee members because he
believed they were more experienced, while his son eyed younger
candidates for their innovative ideas.
has become a commonplace in China's rural elections that each
member of the family votes for his or her own choice. In the
village of Chenqiao in Jiangxi, Xu Xiesheng had an experience
similar to that of Wan.
used to be natural for him to choose the person he liked while
voting on behalf of his son. But now things have changed. Not only
the son has his own idea, but the wife and daughter-in-law all have
their different candidates. "Now everybody cherishes the right to
vote and tries to make full use of it," Xu said.
the voting site of Shuangtang village, two village-head candidates
were campaigning. After each of them gave a speech, villagers threw
various questions concerned to them.
Then the voting began. The villagers walked in line to change their
elector's certificates and trust deeds to votes. After carefully
marked their votes, they put them into the ballot box.
After all the villagers finished their voting, the working staff
immediately began to count, and declared the result publicly.
The candidates were all nominated and elected directly by the
villagers themselves several days earlier.
"The villagers would not eat dirt if some village official dares to
practice fraud. They will definitely demand another election
according to law," said Cai Jianwu, an officer with the Civil
Affairs Department of Jiangxi Province. He said this shows Chinese
farmers, who account for the majority of China's population, have
an increasing demand for political democracy.
Beginning from the latter part of 2001, the new round the village
committee elections has been undertaking in China's rural areas. It
is the first round of massive-scale elections since the enforcement
of the Organic Law of the Villagers' Committee in 1998. Currently,
such elections are undergoing in 25 provinces, concerning over
630,000 village committees and 400 million farmers.
According to Tong Baogui, director of the Civil Affairs Office of
the Legislation Committee in NPC, China has accomplished a basic
law framework and a legal system on the village committee election
since the Organic Law of the Villagers' Committee was promulgated
in 1998. So far, 31 provinces, autonomous regions and
municipalities have worked out relevant regional regulations.
With the protection of the law, Chinese farmers have become more
enthusiastic in politics. Statistics show that averagely 80 percent
of the rural people participated in the village committee
elections; in Hainan province, the figure reached 95.6 percent.
Among the newly elected village committee members, the average
educational level is higher while their average age is younger.
Their comprehensive quality has risen. For example, in Zhejiang,
one of China's prosperous provinces, 1,447 of the village committee
members are graduates of college or junior college.
(china.org.cn by Zheng Guihong December 28, 2002)